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.