Love and Politics

Love and Politics, Symposia

What is at stake in invoking “love” in political spheres? When we claim that “Love Trumps Hate”, what vision of “love” are we championing? When and how is it valuable for activists and religious leaders to make recourse to the idea of “love”? What kind of obligations does “love” entail?

What is at stake in invoking “love” in political spheres? When we claim that “Love Trumps Hate”, what vision of “love” are we championing? When and how is it valuable for activists and religious leaders to make recourse to the idea of “love”? What kind of obligations does “love” entail?

For this symposium, I invited thinkers to consider these questions, and reflect on what it might mean to name “love” as a guiding force for politics and activism. While their responses represent a wide range of approaches and stances, they all work to complicate any straightforward notion of what love might mean in the political sphere.

Andrew Vink’s “Can Neo-Liberalism Allow For Love?” considers what love might mean in the context of neo-liberal politics. Through close engagement with James Baldwin, Jacques Derrida, and some of contemporary hip-hop’s most popular and critically-lauded voices, Monica R. Miller and Christopher M. Driscoll’s “Complicating Love with Kendrick Lamar and Cardi B” asks us to consider why it may be prudent to be, at best, suspicious of love. In “Love and Violence in Augustine and Arendt,” Sean Hannan tackles the complicated role that love plays for both titular thinkers, and argues that such a comparison can help us think more fruitfully about “respectability politics.” Drawing on Levinas, Sarah Pessin’s “America’s Love Problem” challenges us to trouble the way that love is often invoked politically. Elaine Padilla’s essay “A Soul’s Icon of Love” closes the symposium with a reflection on our political “dark night” and a call for decolonializing love at the borders of nation and self.

Symposium Essays

Andrew Vink

Can Neoliberalism Allow for Love?

In a world where the market is the foundation, can there be love in politics?

Monica Miller

Complicating Love with Kendrick Lamar & Cardi B

If we are to attend to, much less celebrate, the difference between the who and the what – as we hope to do in our work – then love may be more trouble than its worth.

Sean Hannan

Love and Violence in Augustine and Arendt

How can community be grounded, if neither in force nor in love? To find out, we must reckon with Arendt’s reading of Augustine, for whom love and force were intimately intertwined.

Sarah Pessin

America’s Love Problem: How Oprah’s Call to Friendship Feeds Bannon’s Call to Racism (or: On Three Strains of Liberal Lovesickness)

We have a call to responsibility regardless of whether you love or respect or agree with or feel in any way comfortable with your neighbor. It is the call to protect your neighbor even if you hate her.

Elaine Padilla

In the Belly of the Colony

Is this nation ultimately facing a precipice of desoulation? Or could this also be the dark abyss out of which to ensoul itself rather than to continue erecting the towers of indignity that proudly shadow its border-history?