course

Ours is 'the age of the crowds,' or so one would infer from the insistence with which the expression is used in the global media to refer to collective phenomena going on around the world. Whenever it comes up the term 'crowds' usually designates human assemblages horizontally coming together in public space seemingly on their own, not convened by any unified political instance vertically standing above them, so as to put pressure on established state authorities to step down, in order to express discontent with one or another predicament, or, if not, simply with the aim of articulating publicly alternative ways of being and acting in the world. This course aims to explore both genealogically and theoretically the current social, cultural and political significance of this emergent, widespread phenomenon. A sustained attention to crowds offers the promise of a renewed understanding of a host of social relations and processes such as abrupt forms of regime change or the generalization of protest movements - think « Occupy » or the so-called Arab Spring - that have proven resilient to established modes of understanding.