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Legend and politics: civic uncertainty and fragmentary narrative 
Ian Brodie (Cape Breton University)
Alexandra Arkhipova (EHESS)
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Ian Brodie (Cape Breton University)
Thursday 8 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Prague

Short Abstract:

This panel explores the role legend plays in the context of political life. We consider politics broadly, including those pertaining to electoral processes and political figures, to the acts of governance, and to social moments that encourage political or legislative redress.

Long Abstract:

Legends are occasions for the negotiation of uncertain reality: emergent changes in the social fabric challenge established norms and presumed verities and, through the sharing of narrative fragments from personal sources, they are tested and either affirmed, overturned, or left pending. This holds as true for our relationship to the transcendent and supernatural as it does for our relationship to the body politic.

Although "urban" doesn't exhaust the field of contemporary legend, it is a particularly fertile area for legend and politics. We need only turn to Louis Wirth’s classic definition of the city as a “relatively large, dense, and permanent settlement of socially heterogeneous individuals”: heterogeneity suggests the coming together of people who define themselves in terms of contrast; dense suggests that immediacy of and proximity to the other; and large suggests communities that can only be mediated by systems. All are occasions for legend: the actions of “others,” defined along any number of spectra, and proximate enough to not just challenge but potentially threaten our core assumptions, are communicated through narrative and, at times, urge us to action.

We approach politics in three ways, recognizing that the categories are diffuse and overlapping:

• Legends pertaining to electoral processes and political figures as they vie for office;

• Legends pertaining to the acts of governance: legislatures, administrations, and NGOs; and

• Legends pertaining to social moments that encourage political or legislative redress: moral panics that become objects if investigation, sanction, and legislation.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 8 June, 2023, -