The Canadian Election and the Politics of Fear

October 06, 2015

Samir Gandesha, Adel Iskandar, & Fiona Jeffries

Tuesday, October 6, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Co-sponsored by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement & School of Communication

The Conservatives' framing of election issues in terms of the "economy" and "security" draws, in equal measure, from the neoliberal and neoconservative aspects of its ideological formation. The former holds that economic imperatives trump democratic ones which is why now according to the new Anti-Terrorism Act (formerly Bill C-51), a threat to the Canadian economy can be considered to constitute "terrorism" and can, as a result, override procedural justice. The second holds that we are in a Hobbesian state of perpetual war which necessitates a doubling down on traditional values and that the state requires a raft of exceptional, extra-judicial measures that will enable the country to defend itself from both external and domestic enemies threatening its security. Accordingly, this panel will critically examine different aspects of Harper's deliberate attempt to mobilize the electorate on the basis of division, conflict and the politics of fear.


Samir Gandesha is an Associate Professor in the Department of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He specializes in modern European thought and culture, with a particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. His work has appeared in Political Theory, New German Critique, Kant Studien, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Topia, the European Legacy, the European Journal of Social Theory, Art Papers, the Cambridge Companion to Adorno and Herbert Marcuse: A Critical Reader as well as in several other edited books. He is co-editor with Lars Rensmann of "Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations" (Stanford, 2012). His book (coedited with Johan Hartle) "Reification and Spectacle: On the Timeliness of Western Marxism" (University of Amsterdam Press) is forthcoming later this year and he has also recently completed (also with Johan Hartle) "Poetry of the Future: Marx and the Aesthetic." He has recently lectured at the Centre for the Study of Marxist Social Theory at the University of Nanjing, the Taipei Biennale and at the School for Language, Literature and Cultural Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

Adel Iskandar is an Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University. He is the author, co-author, and editor of several works including “Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution” (AUCP/OUP); “Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism” (Basic Books); “Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation” (University of California Press); “Mediating the Arab Uprisings” (Tadween Publishing), and Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring” (Palgrave Macmillan). Iskandar’s work deals with media, identity and politics; and he has lectured extensively on these topics at universities in more than thirty countries. His forthcoming works deal with propaganda and cultural dissidence online. Prior to his arrival at SFU, Iskandar taught for several years at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC. He is a co-editor of the online publication Jadaliyya.

Fiona Jeffries (via Skype) is a writer and a teacher whose work broadly focuses on spatial politics, media practices and the social life of feelings. She is the author of “Nothing to Lose but our Fear” (Between the Lines and Zed Books: 2015) and has published academic and journalistic essays on feminist politics, media and gender violence, urban social struggles, art and politics, and the role of communication practices in the production of alternative globalizations. Her current work documents infrastructures of repression, fear, precarity, resistance, communing and care amid the neoliberal enclosures. She is presently teaching in Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University and is a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities at Simon Fraser University.


Am Johal is Director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement. He has an MA from the Institute for Social and European Studies from Corvinus University in Hungary and completed a doctoral dissertation with European Graduate School in media philosophy. He published his first book, 'Ecological Metapolitics: Badiou and the Anthropocene' in 2015. He sits on the Vancouver City Planning Commission, the Steering Committee for SFU's Centre for Dialogue and is a board member with the Vancity Community Foundation. He has previously served as an advisor to two provincial cabinet ministers and is the co-founder of UBC's Humanities 101 program.