"Reversing the Gaze": A new research project in Political Geography

reversing the gaze

How can scientific concepts and theories, developed in the Global South, help us understand phenomena in the Global North? This is the main question that guides the four-year research project co-led by Benedikt Korf. 

The project, financed by the SNF Sinergia program, "reverses the gaze" by deploying three mid-level concepts developed in (and for) the Global South - "re-tribalisation", "political society", and "the cunning state" - to phenomena of political crisis in Europe. The project builds on a "conceptual laboratory" approach to critically inquire into the methodological scope of comparison, aiming to "decolonize theory". 

Benedikt Korf will inter alia lead the project's work package that focuses on understanding mechanisms through which populist parties have fragmented and antagonized the political landscape in Europe. Together with the Post-Doc Stephan Hochleithner, Benedikt Korf will apply postcolonial conceptualizations of "political society" and "fear of small numbers" to Austrian electorial politics as a case study. By reversing the gaze in this manner, Korf and Hochleithner aim at crafting a new vocabulary to study the "cultural politics" of democratic elections in Austria and Europe more broadly.

The project is starting in September 2020 and led by a consortium at the University of Zurich, the University of Basel, and the University of Edinburgh. The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, is a Swiss partner; international partners are based in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.

Reversing the Gaze

Picture: A choir performs at the National Council chamber during open day at the Swiss Parliament, 1 August 2018 (Parlamentsdienste 3003 Bern)