Critical Theories Network
University of Vienna
The Critical Theories Network brings together different philosophical and theoretical approaches that focus on the critical analysis and investigation of the conditions and presuppositions of contemporary society, politics, economy, and culture. While it has often been exclusively associated with the Frankfurt School, the term « critical theory » is here taken in a broader sense, encompassing the critical tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries (Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche) and the tradition of the Frankfurt School, as well as contemporary forms of critical theory, including post-marxist, psychoanalytic, (post-)structuralist, (post-)phenomenological, and deconstructive conceptions of critical inquiry, and critical approaches within gender theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and legal studies.
The plural Critical Theories reflects the diversity of these efforts at describing and scrutinizing the underlying values, normative structures, and power relations that constrain and enable social, political, and economic life. What all these approaches have in common–besides their radical questioning of the given–is their understanding of theory as a decisive element in a practice aiming at new social forms. In this sense, the term Critical Theories does not designate a unified canon of concepts, methods, or theoretical presuppositions, but rather names a variety of theoretical approaches that are linked by a shared commitment to resolute engagement with norms, institutions, discourses, and texts, as well as with social, political and economic relations, which also encompass critical activity itself and its relation to social practice as a whole.
The aims of the Critical Theories Network are to:
– strengthen and conjoin research and teaching already undertaken at the University of Vienna in the field of critical theories;
– provide a platform for researchers and students to engage in discussions through regular seminars, workshops, and reading groups; and
– build up a network of scholars, research projects, institutions, and study programs that are dedicated to the study, comparison, and evaluation of the various critical traditions, as well as to encourage international exchange.