thematic strands

In recent years political and social conflicts have increasingly been interpreted as cultural conflicts. "Culture" has thus become a central operational category of contemporary political discourses and decision-making. Cultural theories have most often contested this process only by stressing a different - albeit "dynamicized" or "translational" – concept of culture, thereby actually contributing to the ongoing culturalization of the political and the social, however, without investigating the discursive regularities and the immediate political implications of the notion of "culture" as such. In return, an in-depth investigation, both in a historical and contemporary perspective, of the political functionalities and societal "materializations" of the cultural dispositive can be described as the task of a critique of culturalization.
Contemporary societies are undergoing profound transformations both at the level of developments related to migration processes and at the level of general life conditions (work, modes of production, forms of social exchange, public spheres, etc.). Neither old models of describing social stratification nor identitary - or even post-identitary - ideas of "cultural" differences or diversities provide a sufficient understanding of these processes. It therefore appears necessary to develop new analyses of the complexities of social recomposition, which take into account such different - and yet intertwined - aspects as (international) labor division, ethnicized work, gender-specific forms of discrimination and exploitation, physical and social mobility, new forms of social interaction and organization, as well as the concrete impact of legal regimes and frameworks. Against this background, the term "social recomposition" aims particularly at highlighting new modes of social and political agency, new possible subjectivities and articulations that emerge from the experience of these changes.
Is there a global common in the postcolonial world? Unfortunately, it seems all too easy to answer this question today: the global common is neither to be found in the old modern concept of universality - since it has proven culturally specific - nor in the normative equality of particular cultures that mutually recognize one another. Instead, it is to be found in the never-ending process of interacting and mixing cultural differences, a process we call cultural translation. This process has its own subject: a new homo duplex of our time, the one who produces, enjoys and theorizes this new common of a trans-national, global culture. At the same time, however, his or her political articulation follows the same old pattern of cultural particularity, in short, the concept of the nation-state. So the homo duplex makes politics out of what s/he culturally condemns. What s/he culturally adores is conversely of no political use whatsoever. To openly challenge this contradiction is probably the hardest task of our time.
The world has become Babel more than ever before. Thanks to the modern means of communication, its multilinguality is now a common fact of everyday life. To speak and understand in this world means nothing other than to constantly translate, linguistically as much as culturally. And yet our intellectual initiation, the institutional forms of our education and cultural production are still based on the monolingual ideology that adheres to the old romantic idea that every language has a unique spirit of its own. It is time for a change, which can only start from scratch, that is, from "wild" practices of multilinguality both on the level of trans-national intellectual and cultural production as much as on the level of immigrant workers, sans papiers and refugees of all sorts.

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