Politicized Loneliness: Perspectives on Hate, Extremism, and Radicalization

March 7, 2024 - March 8, 2024
The Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie) and Practical Philosophy, University of Helsinki

Room 12
Unioninkatu 40
Helsinki 00170

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  • Emil Aaltonen Foundation
  • Research Council of Finland


California State University, San Bernardino
Loyola University, Chicago

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Today, loneliness is recognized as a societal concern with psychological, social, and economic dimensions. However, loneliness can also serve as a catalyst for politically motivated hatred. Within online communities, discussions surrounding loneliness are used to feed radicalization and extremism, with consequences ranging from online harassment to acts of terrorism.

The conference Politicized Loneliness: Perspectives on Hate, Extremism, and Radicalization invites papers that seek to shed light on this overlooked dimension of loneliness and its role in anti-democratic developments. The conference is organized at the University of Helsinki on March 7-8, 2024.

How can we best understand the aggressive emotional landscape constructed around the experience of loneliness, and the associated political discourses and ideologies? In what kind of environments does loneliness become linked to racism, misogyny, or the glorification of violence? Does the experience of loneliness reinforce patterns of thought compatible with conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies? What arguments and narratives can be found in online platforms focusing on loneliness?

The keynote will be delivered by Dr. Jennifer Gaffney, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago, and the author of Political Loneliness: Modern Liberal Subjects in Hiding (2020).

We welcome both empirical and theoretical papers from a variety of disciplines, including political science, philosophy, gender studies, media studies, literary studies, and social sciences. Presentations may cover topics such as:

* The relationship between loneliness and radicalization

* Narratives and arguments used to legitimize hatred through loneliness

* The connection between loneliness and racism, misogyny, and violence

* Loneliness as an emotion

* Loneliness and liberalism

* Loneliness and totalitarianism

* The role of media spaces in shaping the experience of loneliness

* Loneliness and conspiracism

* Crisis of democracy

* Gender and loneliness

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit your paper proposals as anonymized pdf document including a title and abstract (up to 300 words) using this form https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/126763/lomake.html by December 15, 2023 (23.59 Eastern European Time). The decisions will be announced in January 2024 at the latest.

For inquiries and further information, please contact [email protected] or [email protected].

There is no fee for attendance. Please note that, unfortunately, we do not have the financial resources to provide travel grants or cover accommodation expenses for participants. We kindly ask all potential presenters and attendees to make their own arrangements for travel and lodging.

Organizers: Research projects "Politicized Loneliness: Hatred, Violence, and Experiences of Loneliness Online" funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation and "Philosophy of Loneliness: Phenomenological Inquiries into the Social and Affective Dimensions of Experiencing a Lack of Meaningful Connection" funded by the Research Council of Finland (grant number 356415).

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February 9, 2024, 11:45pm EET

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