International Conference „The Contentious Politics of Solidarity“
Acts of solidarity or ‘political altruism’ are fundamental components of most progressive contemporary social movements. Members of these movements voluntarily defend the interests, rights, and identities of others usually marginalized individuals or groups. Such practices thus entail a specific type of relationship between actors in unequal power relations. In contrast to charity, solidarity presupposes a transformative impetus and aims at restructuring society towards a more equal order. Not least for this empowering element, acts of solidarity have been contested ever since: within different factions of civil society, by counter-movements and by public institutions at various territorial levels. Conceptual and practical debates have emerged on the relationship between ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘solidarity’, particularly on the role of power, domination and paternalism therein. Counter movements have rhetorically and physically challenged such acts. Public authorities have additionally employed multiple forms of repression. Old laws have been used and new laws produced to legally prosecute acts of solidarity. In the light of increasing controversies regarding the practices of support for migrants in Europe, the conference on the contentious politics of solidarity will focus on the contestation of acts of solidarity by counter-movements and the state, as well as on resistance to it by migrant and pro-migrant movements.