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Dissent! Refracted

Histories, Aesthetics and Cultures of Dissent


Edited By Ben Dorfman

This collection of essays addresses the ongoing problem of dissent from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives: political philosophy, intellectual history, literary studies, aesthetics, architectural history and conceptualizations of the political past. Taking a global perspective, the volume examines the history of dissent both inside and outside the West, through events in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries both nearer to our own times as well as more distant, and through a range of styles reflecting how contested and pressing the problem of dissent in fact is. Drawing on a range of authors and international problematics, the contributions discuss the multiple ways in which we refract memories of dissent in cultural, historical and aesthetic context. It also discusses the diverse ideas, images and phenomena we use to do so.
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This book is a result of the conference “Dissent: Histories and Meanings of Opposition Since 1968,” held January 16th–17th, 2014 at Aalborg University in Denmark. The conference was multidisciplinary, incorporating historians, philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, cultural studies scholars, critical theorists, literary scholars, art historians, architecture scholars, and activists. The conference addressed problems of resistance, opposition, and social change from perspectives contemporary and historical as well as theoretical and empirical in nature. This is the second of two volumes from the conference. The first, The Politics of Dissent (Óscar Garcia Agustín and Martin Bak Jørgensen, eds.), addresses contemporary dissent movements. This volume picks up on further themes of aesthetics, memory, intellectual history, representation, senses of time and problems of history. Combined, the volumes should take readers to multiple locales in the field of dissent, offering present-day as well as historically-based critiques.

Neither the conference volumes nor the conference itself would have been possible without Óscar Garcia Agustín’s and Martin Bak Jørgensen’s work as co-organizers, nor that of Sandro Nickel, our other co-organizer. Óscar and Martin’s work as editors of the series in which the volumes appear has also been invaluable.

In addition to the series editors and the conference’s organizers, I’d like to express my thanks to the Department of Culture and Global Studies and the Faculty of Humanities at Aalborg University. Both provided invaluable support for this project, and Department Chair Marianne Rostgaard deserves particular appreciation for her interest in the work. I should also thank Patrick Thomas Casey, copyeditor and style commentator for the project, for his close attention to detail. The work benefitted greatly from his engagement.

Of course, no investigative or expressive act is arrived at without the influence of others. For the many friends, family and colleagues contributing to my intellectual development, I am grateful. I offer special thanks to my parents, Eve Kenyon and Bruce Dorfman, for imbuing me, each in their own way, with a spirit of dissent.

Ben Dorfman

Aalborg, June 2015