Objectives of the project

Heteropolitics is designed to fill in these gaps in contemporary political theory

  •  first, by broaching socio-political innovation as a long-term process of creative response to social dislocations and open, ongoing, plural experiments rather than as a momental and miraculous eruption, drawing on the relevant work of Cornelius Castoriadis (1987, 1994), Richard Day (2005), Gibson-Graham (2006) and James Scott (1990), among others.
  •  second, by delving into new practices of the commons and democratic self-governance in social groups and mobilizations, the project will figure out how they initiate a process of ‘commoning’ mainstream politics and political strategies (relevant examples include Sardex; Barcelona en Comú; the community of Sarantaporo in Northern Greece; see also the Appendix). Heteropolitics intends to explore how meaningful civic participation on various levels could be enhanced through institutional reforms which build on grassroots initiatives so as to promote social integration (including migrants) and to increase citizens’ trust, interest and involvement in national and European democracy, combating the prevailing apathy, alienation and resentment.
  • third, Heteropolitics adopts a broad and flexible understanding of the ‘political’ as a deliberate process of social self-construction, self-management and collective debate over institutions and social relations. Thus construed, the ‘political’ can be traced out in any social domain, from culture and education to the economy, the political system and social pro-tests. The ‘political’ can assume diverse, new and unexpected forms. These may inspire practices of political renewal and civic empowerment in a variety of other social fields, beyond their original location.

Heteropolitics will elaborate thus new hybrid concepts such as ‘common leadership’, ‘post-hegemony’, and others which take account of new developments in social movements and community organization and can produce conceptual frames that will be of practical use for empirical inquiries into community organization and civic mobilization.

We will critically inquire into new, alternative and incipient practices of community building and self-governance in:
– education (Coté, Day & de Peuter 2007)
– the social economy (Amin 2009; Gibson-Graham, Cameron & Healy 2013)
– art (Cvejić & Vujanović 2012)
– new platforms of citizens’ participation in municipal politics (Tormey 2015)

Introducing agonistic theory and hegemony in the contemporary discussion of the commons is a major innovation of the Heteropolitics project, without precedent in contemporary theory. It can help to advance the commons as a broader paradigm and force of social change.