Maria Boletsi, Professor by Special Appointment of the Marilena Laskaridis Chair of Modern Greek Studies, has received a fellowship from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) within the framework of the Theme Group Project ‘The Politics of (De)familiarization: The Common and the Strange in Contemporary Europe.’ Within this Theme Group, each group member will undertake an individual research project connected to the overarching project; Boletsi’s project will explore challenges to post-truth politics from forms of artivist protest that combine fictional modalities with defamiliarization strategies.
During the academic year of 2021-2022, Boletsi will spend 5 months at NIAS working on this project together with Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen; group coordinator), Sarah de Lange (UvA, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences) and Florian Lippert (University of Groningen). The group’s interdisciplinary project will explore constructions and mobilizations of the ‘common,’ the ‘familiar,’ and the ‘strange’ in current European political discourse, bringing together analyses of both political discourses and politically engaged forms of cultural production.
The surge of right-wing populism, accompanied by post-truth rhetoric, is reconfiguring the relation between fact and fiction, commonality and strangeness. While promoting common sense to normalize its ideologies, populism also cultivates excessive crisis-narratives that approximate speculative fiction and defy common sense. Creative critical responses to this rhetoric can emerge from the estranging functions of fiction itself. This project explores challenges to post-truth politics from forms of artivist protest that combine fictional modalities (literary/cinematic/artistic forms) with defamiliarization strategies. It traces this trend throughout Europe, but centers on Mediterranean Europe, which has recently bred radical protest cultures through transversal crisis-scapes. How does artivism employ fiction to defamiliarize constructions of ‘common sense’ and ‘the new normal’ while countering the co-opting of fiction by post-truth populism? Scrutinizing events along three categories – spectral bodies, weird bodies, (anti-)utopian spaces – the project examines their political and aesthetic force and (inter)national resonance vis-à-vis environments of crisis, nativism, and neo-traditionalism.