First Rabat Spring School for the Social Sciences


Extremism, Globalization and the Post-Grand Narratives Era

Extremism, in all its shapes and forms, has been thus far approached as the direct consequence of globalization and the dislocations it has occasioned across the entire globe. Such dislocations manifested physically across time and space, causing actual or virtual displacement as well as involuntary mobility and even epistemic alienation, and disenchantment together with individual and collective despair.

In the face of a globalization that has shown little concern about local knowledge, reactions, at times violent, have been articulated in economic terms but mostly in the name of culture. For some forms of extremism, culture is not only something to vaunt or take pride in but to brandish in acts of ‘ideocide’ spawning what Arjun Appudurai and Amine Maalouf have respectively termed ‘predatory’ or ‘murderous’ identities.

An emotionally charged cultural economy, at times referred as the economy of rage, has settled in; thereby undermining seriously the very few intersectional or multicultural spaces that emerged following a period of societal negotiation as evident in public policies that endorse the culture of difference as well as the politics of recognition. Such third spaces which gave hope that dialogue might heal wounds inflicted in the past are now seriously compromised in view of the clash of extremisms that results in devastating bouts of violence occurring in the most unlikely places. In the wake of a violent act, the world is now hardly ever poised for the calm after the storm but braces itself for the lull before the storm.

While recognizing the academic merit of the proposition which links extremism to globalization and instead of framing the debate within the binary opposition between tradition and modernity, religiosity and secularism, Islam and the West or more broadly the West and the rest, this workshop seeks to approach the above-mentioned extremist reactions in light of what might be called ‘a post-global condition’

Just as distinctions have been made between (post)modern and (post)modernism as well as (post)modernization, another distinction must yet be made between (post)globalization, (post)globalism and (post)globality. Humanity is now past so many ages, having gone through the post-enlightenment, post-positivism, post-Fordism and even the post-truth and the post-human era. While globalization refers to the super-postmodern economic processes that animated global trade, the global condition is the sum total of reactions and situations generated by these very processes which are, in turn, closely affiliated with neoliberal policies.

This workshop seeks to examine three perspectives in connection with the dynamics governing globalization and extremism in our post-global era.

  1. Extremism, Globalization and Postmodernism

  2. Globalizing Knowledge in the face of the Globalization of Extremism: Coexistence instead of the ‘Clash of Extremisms’

  3. Religion, Secularism and Extremism in Secular and Postsecular Societies

  1. Extremism, Globalization and Postmodernism

The intellectual import of postmodernism, churned out for the most part in the 1960’s, applied mostly to postcolonial situations in newly independent countries. Postmodernists probably lacked the foresight to predict the Iranian Revolution, the rise of Political Islam, the crumbling of the Soviet Union, the discontentment with socialism and the further widening of social inequalities, the ruthless encroachment of globalization and neoliberalism and the ever-increasing trend of migratory flows across the globe, the redeployment of religion and identity politics in public spheres of many societies in the Western world.

In connection with extremism, globalization and postmodernism, this workshop seeks to address the following questions:

To what extent is postmodernism really to blame, through its deconstructive assault on modernity and subsequently globality, for providing the rhetorical and ideological devices to groups that claim to be inconvenienced by processes of modernization and globalization?

Through its de-centering strategies as evident in championing the margin and the periphery, folk culture, myth as well as legend, to what extent has postmodernism animated the retreat to identity, ironically disempowering such groups by denying them the right to enjoy modernity which is in Jurgen Habermas’s view, an ‘unfinished project’?

How has postmodernism been instrumentalized by some ideologically informed groups for strictly ideological ends?

If Grand narratives have been indeed sufficiently deconstructed, shouldn’t smaller narratives that morphed into peripheral orthodoxies and dogmas be deconstructed in turn?

Given the scale of violence that ensues from clashes of extremisms rather than the clash of civilizations as suggested in the 1990’s, wouldn’t there be a need for a post-deconstructionist project to demystify the idea of return to pre-modern practices?

How could this post-deconstructionist project help us get to grips with the post-global condition and all the aporias, inconsistencies and anomies that characterize the postglobal era? What would be the tenets and premises of this post-deconstructionist project?

  1. Globalizing Knowledge in the face of the globalization of extremism : Coexistence instead of the ‘Clash of Extremisms’

The second perspective of the issue at hand is predominantly epistemological. This workshop therefore examines the role knowledge could play in the face of the clash of extremisms. It focuses most specifically on international development policies and strategies adopted in building resiliency in the face of extremism and also highlights the paradigmatic shift from the economic to the cultural model of development. In addition to examining both socio-economic and cultural approaches to handling issues of extremism, this workshop looks at extremist reactions as phenomena pertaining to the ‘postglobal condition’.

Indeed, local and international development agencies have been mobilized in the belief that they can heal wounds disenfranchised groups and communities as well as societies suffered at the hands of colonialism, imperialism and globalization. The steady increase in migratory flows, which is direct outcome of globalization, has been a major concern of both local and global development agencies. This workshop addresses issues relating to voluntary and involuntary mobility and sees the extent to which development agencies have been mindful of knowledge as a crucial variable in its empowerment policies.

How could these development agencies be galvanized into overhauling their development programs towards achieving social and epistemic justice as well as respect of cultural rights and ultimately ethicizing globalization?

How could this epistemological perspective be a crucial factor in the shaping of public policies of empowerment and coexistence; policies that have far-reaching historical and philosophical in marked contrast to to Band-Aid and short term strategies that hardly ever attend to the root causes of extremist reactions?

Another aim of this workshop is to reflect upon possible attempts at epistemic historicizing and ethicizing of Globalization. How could history in the Braudelean sense allow us to conceive of globalization as historical process which has unfolded across time and space, emerging from various provenances and manifesting in different eras? Instead of singling out specific events in the trajectory of globalization, how could we possibly account for the backwash and spillover of such events across the spectra of time and space?

How could philosophy, especially ethics or moral philosophy, through a focus on the semantic implications of concepts such ‘hospitality’, ‘migration’, ‘bordering’, ‘neighborliness’, ‘dialogue’, ‘negotiation’, ‘tolerance’, ‘coexistence’ restore to knowledge its due value in approaching issues relating to migration such as ‘social cohesion’ and the ‘vivre ensemble’.

How could philosophical propositions help development agencies guard themselves against the pragmatic short-termism and that characterize some development initiatives that claim to be attending to some of the reactions that ensued from globalization?

What possible alternative model(s) of international development could be envisaged in the post-global era?

To what extent can Post-development Studies, an academic area that is skeptical of development, help us conceive of alternative models of development?

  1. Religion, Secularism and Extremism in Secular and Postsecular Societies

The public sphere in some Western societies in Europe has witnessed a marked shift from early twentieth-century secularism (France and Turkey) to novel models of secularism that do not drive a hard wedge between religion and the state but strives to accommodate religion within society on the basis of religious and cultural rights, and in keeping with the politics of recognition.

To what extent could alternative development models together postsecular reconfigurations of the social landscape in some traditionally secular societies both constitute viable approaches to handling extremism in all its shapes and colors?

What possible strategies could possibly be considered in a re-engineering of inter-faith and cultural dialogue where extremisms could actively listen, review deep-seated convictions that are most often animated by ‘ideas’ of return, forego part(s) of their imagined selves and hopefully dine together.

How could initiatives taken under the banner of spiritual diplomacy be coupled with public policies that take full account of the ‘ethics of hospitality’ towards immigrants as well as the ethics of responsibility’ towards minorities and thus make the transition from the rhetoric of ‘good will’ to ‘good management’ and thus explore through common endeavors prospects of cooperation and solidarity?

How could communities across the globe hitch onto the bandwagon of globalization without necessarily suffering any form of economic subjugation, servitude or alienation? How could globalization in its unbridled form be compelled to act responsibly and held in check through the resurrection of universal values (liberty, emancipation, equality and justice) that hark back to the enlightenment.

The aim of this workshop is also to revisit the concept postsecularism and engage in a philosophical and sociological debate on the transformations of the public sphere has witnessed in postsecular societies and in light of the shifting positions of religion in such societies as (post)modern societies.

The workshop equally seeks to reconsider some of the current assumptions in public debate on connections between modernity and secularism, democracy and secularism that tie up with yet other linkages between secularization and modernization as well as the suggestion that successful process of political, cultural and social modernization entails the exclusion of religion from the public sphere.

An examination of the aforementioned issues begs yet another series of questions:

To what extent could we speak of ‘the end of secularism’? Does ‘Postsecularism’ constitute a break with or a mere continuation of secularism in various shapes and forms?

How could we possibly gauge the transition of a society from secularism to postsecularism?

What are the dynamics that characterize the ways in which the postsecular state interacts with the postsecular society, the postsecular individual as well as the postsecular citizen?

To what extent does the resurgence of individual religiosity chime in with the proposition of a postsecular society? Could we consider such a resurgence as a continuation of secularism in yet another form or does it constitute a challenge to the postscular proposition in light of the vigorous upsurge of the religious factor within the public sphere in the post-cold war era?

How committed are Postsecular societies to values of diversity, difference, and citizenship as well as the neutrality of the state? How could these societies live up to the ideal of diverse societies knowing fully well the they have been constructed a reaction to the ‘crisis of diversity’ that ensued from ‘the problem of immigration’ and other pertaining issues, mainly ‘Islam in Europe’.

Does the qualification ‘postsecular’ suggest a shift towards what might be called a post-post Enlightenment era in Western societies? If that should be the case, wouldn’t it be compelling for Western societies to strive for further accommodation of conservative values alongside ‘hard core’ rationalism?

Wouldn’t an acknowledgment of the ‘postsecular turn’ in European societies entail a with all forms of Euro-centricism and therefore a redefinition of European identity; a redefinition that does not reset exclusively on the Judeo-Christian but includes other heritages that have arguably contributed to the shaping of European epistemology as a whole?

If postsecular societies adopt such dynamics of recognition, shouldn’t we therefore expect compatible patterns of thought such as European Islam, patterns that are in keeping with universal values?

Participants in this workshop will equally explore transformations in the public sphere in other societies that have not experience secularism nor the potential shift to postsecularism as some societies in European have. How could such societies therefore turn to their advantage the postsecular shift in Western societies and eventually embrace postsecularism both as a philosophical concept and a social praxis without necessarily pursuing the same trajectory?

On the whole, participants from across disciplines in the Humanities will fully engage with the aforementioned issues and see the extent to which a profound reflection on the some of the cataclysmic dislocations occasioned by globalization could help us better apprehend some of the wider ramifications of these very dislocations in a post-grand narrative period ; a period that we could at best qualify as the post-global era.

The ultimate goal is not to come to ready-made solutions but ponder collectively on some of the compelling issues that animate public and academic debates in the hope of building an intellectual project that enjoys full independence and impartiality and steers clear of positions that smack of the smallest ideological overtone.

For more informations about the program in arabic, click here

For more informations about the program in english, click here