The Politics of Dread

Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 - 12:00

WiSER invites you to a midday symposium on


Commonly defined as fear and anxiety about the future and the possibility of an end to the world, or a world, as we know it, dread conjures up images of collision, outbreak, tidal wave, impending disaster and catastrophe. It has providential, apocalyptic, millenial and eschatological dimensions. As the new century unfolds, it can be argued that dread is not only a powerful narrative schema but is also gaining a widespread affective life in public culture and becoming a politics in itself. This midday symposium will examine, among other questions, these recent schemas and affects, as well as the extent to which contemporary experiences of dread are the expression of long-standing apocalyptic, messianic or millenial traditions. How does dread, in all its instantiations, restructure a liberal democratic public sphere supposedly founded on reasonableness, civility and respectability? What role do cinema and science fiction, global mass media and video games play in the production of the consciousness of dread? And how do social media and the emergence of the algorithmic exacerbate this condition? Can it be said of dread that it is a sign of social entropy and cultural involution? What readings of the past and the future does dread implicitly invoke? What forms of resistance?
Opening remarks: Sarah Nuttall and David Theo Goldberg
Interventions: John Comaroff, Jean Comaroff and Achille Mbembe
26th July 2017
WiSER Seminar room
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
East Campus
The Politics of Dread is organised in collaboration with the University of California Humanities Research Institute, University of California at Irvine.