Autonomy has always been a controversial concept.
Already in 1984, psychoanalyst Arno Gruen discussed its developmental and political implications in his book The Betrayal of the Self: The Fear of Autonomy in Men and Women. In what could be read as a response to Gruen, Richard Sennett published his essay Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation in 2012. Based on these two theoretical pillars, our conference aims to initiate an interdisciplinary discussion on the complex process of self-determination in an increasingly globalised and technological world.
Some political and cultural discourses of the 20th century have shown a clear propensity towards regionalization. This tendency comes along with an almost inflationary use of concepts such as “integration,” “assimilation,” and “self-determination.” However, such terms point to the problematic nature of negotiated relationships oscillating between autonomy and symbiosis, between self-determination and the acceptance of rules, as well as between the integration into a larger whole and differentiation from it.
Psychology and Sociology are not the only areas of research that come into question in the discussion of autonomy. In cultures that have already warned us of the appearance of the “transparent citizen”, the surveillance of collaborators in enterprises has been a recurrent theme. At the same time, economists and sociologists have analysed the psychological and philosophical consequences of a business world that seems to demand more and more autonomy and flexibility from its members.
The conference provides thus an interdisciplinary platform to explore the relevance of the concept of autonomy in political science, cultural and literary studies, psychology, philosophy, art, Latin American studies, and economics. Our event addresses students as well as an interested public audience. The language of the symposium will be English.