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Bogdana Koljević Griffit
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Institute for Political Studies
Editor of the journal
New Serbian Political Thought
Faculty for Media and Communications, Singidunum University
The New School for Social Research, New York, USA
The New School for Social Research, New York, USA
Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade University
Bogdana Koljević, PhD, is the Research Associate of the Institute for Political Studies. She published several highly-rated books: “Biopolitika i politički subjektivitet” (Biopolitics and Political Subjectivity) (Službeni glasnik, 2010), “Kosovo, Evropa, demokratija” (Kosovo, Europe, Democracy) (Nova srpska politička misao, 2011), “Biopolitika i savremeni svet” (Biopolitics and Contemporary World) (Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva, 2015), “Twenty-First Century Biopolitics” (Peter Lang International Publishing, Frankfurt Am Main, 2015), “Ustanak evropskih naroda” (Uprising of European Nations) (Filip Višnjić, 2016), and numerous academic papers in the fields of biopolitics, contemporary democracy theory and international relations.
AFTER BIOPOLITICS – TRUE DEMOCRACY AS 21ST CENTURY “LIFEWORLD”
In this article the author, firstly, considers different aspects of contemporary neoliberalism as biopolitics, especially reflecting the issue of cryptodemocracy in the end of 20th as well as in the first decades of 21st century. Or, more precisely, beginning from Foucault’s articulation of biopolitics as both regulation and control of population, the issue of multiple forms of “liberal democracy” in neoliberalism and poststructualism is critically addressed. In this light, divergent forms of “liberal democracy” as procedural i.e., formal democracy which appears as the primary condition of possibility for biopolitical neototalitarianism are analyzed. This neototalitarianism of the West i.e., of Pax Americana, which simultaneously includes the project of the EU, is primarily manifested through numerous contemporary phenomena of biopolitics – from “humanitarian interventionism” to “wars against terrorism” and measures taken against COVID 19. The common ground for all phenomena is traced back to the “friend-enemy” distinction, as well as to politization of the body as the conditions which enabled de(con)struction of both homo politicus and democracy. It is emphasized that the structural binary opposition is one between East and West and that, moreover, biopolitical neototalitarianism targets precisely the otherness of the East which it perceives as unbearable. In the second part of the article, it is argued that reaffirmation of polis requires a theory and practice of “true democracy” – as “democracy of content” – which is conceptually different from any form of “formal democracy”. Furthermore, true democracy is, first and foremost, articulated as politics of the local i.e., as both politics of place and politics of time. Therefore, in opposition to “neoliberal presentism” and “the end of history” a return to democracy falls in one with rebirth of history. Transcendence of time and immanence of space constitute the framework for comprehending knowledge as remembrance which, in the next step, enables the foundation of a new paideia for the 21st century. Or, in other words, special relevance of education for true democracy - as well as for the structural relation between the political and the normative element – is emphasized. In such a way, the author at the same time reflects upon the necessity of culture for true democracy and formation of the polis because culture – which always comes in plural – is the sine qua non not only for politics and ethics but for the possibility of civilization. The potential for realization of political subjectivity and sovereignty is then presented in the form of true democracy as self-determination of the people. In conclusion, this process is also marked by forming of specific Sittlickeit i.e., “democracy of content” is manifested through multiplicity of forms of “lifeworld” which come forth from history, tradition, and high culture. In such a way, the life of the people as democratic life par excellence, with all its particularities, opens the space for horizons of new humanism in the 21st century that is also constituted as the final foundation for restauration of homo politicus.
DEMOCRACY IN BADIOU’S POLITICAL ONTOLOGY
In this article the author reflects on Badiou’s concept of democracy, at the same time considering philosophical, social and political implications that come forth from this contemporary complex theory. Badiou’s writings on democracy appear as a constitutive part of his political ontology i.e. of the twofold system of being and event on the one hand and logics of worlds on the other. In spite the fact that the concept and practices of democracy are not addressed in his work in a systematic manner (most of his essays on this topic are found in Polemics), this issue, nonetheless, is of utmost relevance for his political philosophy in toto - most notably in the way democracy is structurally interrelated with rethinking of equality. More precisely, Badiou builds a critical discourse of representative democracy as parliamentary democracy per se, focusing especially on the construction and role of the United Nations as the “world parliament” and then demonstrating the multiplicity of ways in which it has been abused in last decades, globally as well as in particular states. Representation is articulated as an always already excess of presentation and therefore as a violent intervention and fictional gesture which, in final instance, dissolves the world as such. Moreover, Badiou’s main emphasis concerning contemporary proclaimed democracy is on neoliberalism and on demonstrating how such an ideological model, first and foremost led by blind economy, enabled conceptual and practical identification between democracy and war. These “democratic wars” are, for the most part, undeclared wars essentially signified by their asymmetric character. In this respect, in different essays it is argued that precisely neoliberalism erased the line between peace and war and promoted so-called “humanitarian” but essentially violent interventionist politics worldwide, and that the ultimate carrier of these processes has been the United States as the leading empire of the end of the 20 Century. In contrast to such forms, Badiou insists on the concept of “Truth-Event”, i.e. on the contingent and incalculable character of the event and the forms in which “the excluded” in politics can be seen and recognized. Furthermore, Badiou lays emphasis on the invention of egalitarian political models – opposed to nihilism of virtual equality ‒ as the proper way for comprehending and realizing true democracy, and therefore concludes with the insight that such democracy is always a matter of subjectivation in a particular local situation. In this sense, in final part of the article, the author addresses Badiou’s critical discourse on the war against Serbia and underlines how Serbia’s struggle against the empire is an exemplary case of local specificities of resistance and democratic politics.
CHANTALLE MOUFFE’S POLITICS OF RADICAL DEMOCRACY
In this article the author critically reflects upon contemporary democratic theory of Chantal Mouffe – outlined in works such as The Democratic Paradox, The Return of the Political and Hegemony and Socialist Strategy – most notably focusing on her conception of radical democracy as politics of agonism vs. antagonism. In the first part of the essay, the issue of the paradoxical nature of contemporary liberal democracy is placed forward, as well as the theoretical and practical question about the establishment of the so-called consensual politics of the centre and “third way” politics which undertook the name of “social-democracy”. Mouffe rightly emphasizes the difference between two philosophical, historical and political traditions, namely, between the principle of popular sovereignty, on the one hand, and the idea of human and individual rights on the other, concluding that their encounter has been a matter of historical contingency. In this light, the concept of the democratic paradox is articulated, first of all, as the mutual exclusion of these principles among themselves. In the second part of the article, through Mouffe’s dialogue with authors such as Schmitt, Rawls, Habermas and Wittgenstein, the relations between power and pluralism i.e., between otherness and conflict are addressed – with the focus on the idea of conflict as the nature of politics itself. Rethinking the difference between the concept of the political and the concept of politics, the author analyzes Mouffe’s suggestion about substituting the concept of the enemy with the concept of the adversary, which results from her concern as how the role of power and violence can be both reduced and institutionalized. It is argued that the philosophically inspiring and multi-level discourse of hegemony that Mouffe presents nonetheless faces itself with structural problems i.e., that perpetual insistence on affirmation of the liberal-democratic framework annuals the very idea of politics of difference as well as of democracy as such in a self-contradictory manner. Most notably, while Mouffe’s position was conceptualized in a way of a deconstructive and/or poststructural anti-essentialism, it ends up precisely as a totalizing comprehension, that is, in an almost metaphysical grounding of “the other of the same”, as well as in exclusion, and all this in the name of “common ground” which leads political passion in a new “democratic design”. This “design”, however, is one of an anthropological pessimism coming from a perspective of a bellum omnium contra omnes. Moreover, such exclusion, in an act of political decision, rejects original political and social otherness, irreducible difference, divergent interpretations and irreplaceable plurality i.e., the whole field of the “constitutive outside” as the core of democracy and the political per se.
The Role of Serbs in the Creation of New Europe
In this article the author reflects upon the idea of theoretical and practical creation of new Europe as opposed to the concept and form of the European Union. In this context, the issues of subjectivity and sovereignty of Europe’s peoples are addressed in relation to the question of true democracy. The response to neoliberal and postmodern political project - such as the EU - is presented as the rise of post-liberal patriotism in different European states. The role of Serbs is this altering process of the 21st century is exemplified in a three-folded way: through the rise of Euroscepticism, through a remembrance that Russia is a constitutive part of Europe and through emphasis on the specific and representative case of political sovereignty of the Republic of Srpska.
How Can Contemporary Political Philosophy Become Applied Philosophy
In this article the author reflects on the idea of “double responsibility” of political philosophy – as responsibility towards reason and towards practice. Such analysis is presented with the challenge of neoliberalism as dominant world-view and therefore addresses the question of meaning of political philosophy as applied philosophy today. In the second part of the essay, key issues of contemporary political philosophy are articulated: political subjectivity, democracy, the future of the international law, the question of state sovereignty and the relation between ethics and politics. In conclusion, a critical examination of both contextualism and universalism is presented.
Rethinking the Question of Otherness and Democracy in European Philosophy
In this paper the author questions how European philosophy from the Greeks to Modernity and postmodernity encountered the problem of Otherness as the problem of the stranger. Morover, otherness and alterity were for the most part understood as opposed and threatening to the European “selfhood”. In the second part of the article the author addresses the theory of Costas Douzinas, both its originality and shortcomings as a response to the issue of rethinking new cosmopolitism. In conclusion, democracy, pluralism and identity are analysed in the light of ongoing debates surrounding the dilemma and accomplishments of the multicultural approach. The author argues that alternative cosmopolitism includes not only critical but normative theory as well.