Marie Curie Fellowship

Researcher: Ryan Kopaitich PhD

Project: Articulations of Desire: Populism and the Future of Democracy

Duration: 3 years (Post-doc)


People have taken to the streets across the United States and Europe in protest of racial injustice, economic inequality, and climate catastrophe. Social strife shows no signs of slowing as factions clash and violence escalates. As a result, the public regards the political systems that have presided over these crises with extreme skepticism. This distrust has culminated in a cynical outlook on national and supranational political institutions. Consequently, the legitimacy of existing democratic arrangements is under strain in the face of populist mobilizations. “Articulations of Desire” (AoD) contends that this tension arises from a foundational incommensurability. Collective desire, as a spontaneous affirmative force that drives collective expression and demand, rests beyond the grasp of an over-idealized “democratic will” that authorizes existing forms of sovereignty. Accordingly, desire’s political force is distorted and pared down, foreclosing democratic horizons and possibilities for transformational futures. I propose to examine the nature of this impasse that I argue is endemic to (Neo)Liberal democracy with the overarching goal of rethinking the relation between democratic institutions and collective desire.