Why do we need to talk about new narratives?
This initial “Agora” cycle will take the form of four meetings between May and July, 2021. Its goal is to explore the reasons why new or alternative narratives are felt to be necessary, and the conditions under which they can actually make meaningful change more possible.
Each session will discuss narratives under the multiple and complexe ways to look at one. Two participants are in charge of kickstarting the discussion and a written synthesis will be produced after each meeting, to serve as a foundation for future actions and projects.
Narratives seem to be everywhere these days. Many thinkers, politicians, activists, artists, etc., call for “new” or “alternative narratives?” - But why, and what for?
Our first questions for this cycle are therefore the following: Why do narratives seem so important? What do they actually do? And what “narratives” are we talking about?
History, they say, is written by the victors. But when the dominant narratives (of progress, of markets, of Western-style democracy, etc.) appear exhausted, other narratives and other narrators appear - or just become visible again. We will be reflecting on the value of plurality in narratives. How important is the diversity of narratives, and of those who produce them or engage with them? How can this diversity be increased? What possibilities, and perhaps difficulties, does this plurality generate? Can there be too many narratives?
When people call for “new/alternative narratives”, there is an assumption that these narratives have the power to make meaningful change more possible. Yet narratives can also be viewed as a way to escape reality, to avoid concrete action, or even to “spin” current reality in order to make it more palatable. Also, narratives seldom provide a clear, unambiguous path towards concrete action. So, what do alternative narratives have to do with action? Are there conditions under which narratives can make change easier, or harder?
Session 4: Topic TBD based on the content of the two first sessions
*These sessions are open to all.