Focus Topic 2018
The discussion of fear, sorrow, outrage or contempt, but as well of faith, hope, compassion, empathy or sympathy, as political forces is presently increased. A consensus seems to exist on the central role of emotions in political processes: They are presumed to be a driving force both of protest movements as well as in democratic processes of opinion-forming, they seem to guarantee for the cohesion of political entities, they are accountable for psychological group phenomena such as subversion and revolution or for a turning of such movements into terror and fright. Yet, assessments of this phenomenon differ greatly. Whereas some deplore a lack of ›political passion‹, others warn of hysteria, of ›angry citizens‹ and of politics driven by emotions. Are ›politics of sentiments‹ legitimate, then, or is there instead a call for general skepticism towards strategies of emotional overwhelming? Should political decisions be taken rationally and is that possible, at all, or are politics simply unthinkable without emotions?
The Focus Topic »Political Emotions« aims to provide a space for the discussion of these questions at the Warburg-Haus. The lecture series in the first half of 2018 focuses on political cultures of emotions in democracy, on compassion, as well as on its darker sides, and on social states of affects in war (Hans-Peter Krüger, Sigrid Weigel, Fritz Breithaupt and Alexander Honold). The lecture series is accompanied by cooperation events on the representation and role of emotions in film, media, literature and the arts. The program of the first half of the year concludes with a special theme day on the cultural perception of (natural) catastrophs, jointly organized by the Warburg-Haus and the Research Centre Images of Nature at Universität Hamburg at the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg Art Museum). The Warburg International Seminar in October 2018 is dedicated to ›Political Emotions in the Arts‹: Which iconographies do current politics of emotions draw on, what are well established, codified dramaturgies that social movements move along, what well-known narratives are taken up in order to mobilize or contain political emotions? The lecture series in the second half of 2018 will then be devoted to representations of political affects (Hermann Kappelhoff, Irene Neverla, Eva Illouz and Andrea Pinotti).