Time for Outrage? Globalization and the Emergence of Indignation as a Political Emotion

Christine Unrau at a conference in Rostock

We are pleased to announce that our own Dr Christine Unrau will be participating in the conference “Subversive Semantics in Political and Cultural Discourse”, which is being hosted online by the University of Rostock.

The title of her talk is "Time for Outrage? Globalization and the Emergence of Indignation as a Political Emotion". It focuses on the meanings and uses of indignation in both progressive and backlash movements in the context of globalization and asks how we can we deal with the ambiguity of "emotional" arguments about justice.

 

From the conference abstract

"Inspired by the large-scale occurrence of phenomena of semantic transfer and rhetorical inversion currently to be observed in right wing discourses and ‘alternative knowledge’ production, the symposium seeks to analyze processes of resemanticization(Umdeutung) of cultural concepts and narratives aimed at establishing hermeneutic hegemony in the political field.”

 

Visit the event’s website for more information: https://www.deutungsmacht.uni-rostock.de/

 

Abstract for Christine’s Paper

Around the world, people are articulating indignation and rage as a subjective motivation for activism and as a source of political legitimacy. This boom of indignation is linked with globalization in multiple ways: Not only is it a global phenomenon which has various origins and spread along certain lines of global communication. What is more, many of the objects of indignation are linked with aspects of economic, social and cultural globalization. While progressive movements like the Mexican Zapatistas or the Spanish Indignados were pioneers in the invocation of indignation, references to this particular emotion have also become widespread among right-wing populists and anti-immigration activists. In that sense, a process of re-semanticization of a political emotion can be observed. Against this background, the paper asks how we can make sense of and react to the invocations of indignation by both alterglobalization and right-wing populist movements. In order to tackle this question, the paper will first give a structured account of the recourse to indignation in both progressive and backlash movements in the context of globalization, identifying some of the multiple origins of the phenomenon and offering conceptual distinctions. Second, the meaning and validity of these invocations will be discussed with a focus on three potential criteria of evaluation, namely appropriateness, authenticity and reflexivity.