Political Myths and Critique in the Age of Post-Truth (NSU Study Circle 2023)

Political Myths and Critique in the Age of Post-Truth (NSU Study Circle 2023)

Call for papers 


30 November – 2 December, 2023

Stockholm University, Sweden

A symposium organized by the Nordic summer university & 

The Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University.

Invited speakers

Stefan Arvidsson, Linnaeus University

Karolina Enquist Källgren, Stockholm University

Mats Rosengren, Uppsala University


Recent events have once again made visible the extensive influence of non-rational and affective elements within the sphere of politics. To theorize this experience, numerous scholars have turned to the concept of political myth. Yet, there is no consensus on what political myths are or what function they fulfill. While some commentators argue that the power of myth over politics has come to increase at the expense of truth, others hold that our current predicament follows in part from an absence of productive, political myths. By contrast, a third camp claims that myth constitutes a political constant (the continued importance of which has, however, been severely overlooked). This summer we look forward to discussing this and related issues, with a particular focus on the relationship between political myth and critique.

Historically, it has often been argued that myth constitutes a particularly dangerous (but also particularly effective) political tool, precisely because it tends to resist critical scrutiny. Yet, in her seminal A Philosophy of Political Myth, philosopher Chiara Bottici states that political myths “can and should be a means for critique and thus for autonomy.” We invite paper presentations that address this tension, broadly conceived. Relevant questions include, but are not limited to:

  • How must political myth and/or critique be defined to appear compatible? 
  • What kind of political myths can serve as a means for critique? Under what circumstances?
  • What kind of critique can tackle the problem that political myths and similar phenomena may pose?
  • How can political myth theory benefit from critical theory and vice versa? What possible tensions may be identified between these theoretical traditions?
  • If political myths are indeed immune to critique, what does this mean? Does myth-making still represent a legitimate political strategy? 
  • How might one understand the relationship between theories of political myth and contemporary fields of inquiry that aim to problematize the role of critique, such as post-critique and affect theory?
  • To what extent does political myth-making represent a (“positive” or “affirmative” alternative to (“suspicious” “negative” or “deconstructive”) critique? 

Participants may examine how these and similar questions have been dealt with historically or are dealt with today, either by individual theorists/artists/activists, or within wider contexts. Or, they may seek to provide new answers, in whatever form they see fit. 


Anyone interested in presenting a paper is invited to submit an abstract of 300 words and a brief bio toadam.kjellgren@idehist.su.se and johanna.sjostedt@gmail.com no later than October 15th 2023. Presentations can be made in English or a Scandinavian language. If you want to participate without a presentation, write a short bio and submit by the same date. Decisions regarding acceptance will be communicated shortly thereafter. We might be able to accept late applications, contact us if the deadline has passed. 

Practical information 

The registration fee is 350 SEK for students from Stockholm university; 500 SEK for other students, PhD candidates, participants from the Baltics and people with low income; and 1000 SEK for senior scholars. Registration entitles you to accommodation in a shared double room, lunch meals and at least one dinner, all of which will be taken care of by the organizers. Single rooms are available for an additional fee. Further instructions about registration and payment will follow in an e-mail to all accepted participants. We will also be able to fund the travel expenses for a number of participants. Please indicate whether you are interested in travel support and, if so, your expected travel expenses, in your application.

About the Nordic Summer University 

Founded in 1950, the Nordic Summer University (NSU) is an independent academic institution that organizes symposia that draws international participants across disciplines in the Nordic and Baltic regions. NSU study circles explore widely diverse topics within the arts and humanities, natural and social sciences. The symposium in Stockholm is the second gathering of this particular network, after the inaugural meeting during the summer of 2023. 


  • Adam Kjellgren, PhD student in the History of Ideas, Stockholm University
  • Johanna Sjöstedt holds MA-degrees in intellectual history and gender studies from the University of Gothenburg.

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