The post-1989 social order is crumbling. New forms of political discontent and expression are emerging, but also new military engagements, economic protectionism, a resurgence of nationalism, and a general mistrust of political representation and news media reflected in rampant talk of ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’. It is all the more urgent to question the narratives about 1989 and its aftermath that are being used to determine contemporary history and shared political timelines. The end of the Cold War – interpreted by some as an ‘end of history’ – reshaped social and political life across the world and was routinely understood to coincide with democratization, globalization, the rise of neoliberal capitalism and global human rights regimes, but also the defeat of socialism and the dismantling of the welfare state. These processes and ideas have preoccupied the social sciences and humanities and dominated the conceptual apparatus theorists rely on to make sense of contemporary politics and societies. More than 25 years after this alleged historical rupture, after the triumph of liberal democracy, and the opening of the social sciences and humanities to transnational and transdisciplinary frames, a number of alternative (dis)continuities emerge: many of the changes associated with 1989 actually can be shown to have started much earlier, while the current crisis of finance capitalism on the one hand and the challenge of authoritarianism and protectionism on the other – not to mention impending ecological catastrophes – run counter to the triumphalist narrative that still serves as the basis of the determination of the current era.


16:00 – 17:45
Panel I: What Happened to Social Theory in 1989?
Epistemic Shifts and Continuities
Introduction by Marian Burchardt

Boris Vormann (John F. Kennedy Institute, FU Berlin)
‘No Alternative: How the Third Way Became a Dead End’
Respondent Marian Burchardt

Boris Buden (Bauhaus University Weimar)
‘How Has History Lost Its Language? On the Political Prospects of New Vernaculars’
Respondent Gal Kirn

17:45-18:15 Coffee Break

18:15 – 19:45
Panel II: Beyond Neoliberalism: What Comes After the ‘End of History’
Introduction by Gal Kirn

Margit Mayer (Center of Metropolitan Studies, TU Berlin)
‘Of Eulogies and Rebirths: Urban Perspectives on the Longevity of Neoliberalism’
Respondent Hannah Proctor

In English

Boris Buden
Marian Burchardt
Gal Kirn
Margit Mayer
Hannah Proctor
Boris Vormann

Organized by

An ICI Event organized by Marian Burchardt (MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity), Gal Kirn (ICI Berlin), and Hannah Proctor (ICI Berlin), supported by the Irmgard Coninx Foundation

The symposium builds on the interventions collected in Beyond Neoliberalism: Social Analysis after 1989, ed. by Marian Burchardt and Gal Kirn (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), itself an outcome of a series of conferences organized and funded by the Irmgard Coninx Foundation.

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

Symposium_Beyond Neoliberalism