"Birds of a feather (and colour) will flock (and fly) together."
-- Old English Proverb, 1545 (approx)
The notion of the 'coalition' is one normally associated with formalised alliances between political parties. Coalitional affiliations are not limited to mainstream politics, but share a focus on strategy and outcome across the full range of human endeavours. Parties with varying priorities will put to one side their differences in order to focus on overlapping concerns. Thus coalitions come in all shapes and sizes and cross all walks of life: from families, clubs and teams to friendships, churches and sects, from companies and co-operatives to scientific formula, mathematical groupings and multimedia/multi person online gaming environments.
Recent history has revealed cracks in public and political alliances. In Australia for example, November 2007 marked a change in politics and culture that saw the demise of then Prime Minister John Howard and his Coalition government. The coupling of neoliberalism and social conservatism was said to be the hallmark of that government’s commitment to ‘old Australian values’, to severe forms of border control, the refusal of same-sex marriage, scepticism toward climate change, and rapid privatisation policies for public services. The Coalition, it appeared, no longer represented the interests of the public. Likewise ‘the coalition of the willing’ as a collective American-led force fighting the war-or-terror fell apart in the later stages of the Bush administration, and the 2008 shift in American politics to Barack Obama’s presidency was a singular moment of international historical significance.
We ask then, as connections to particular coalitions shift, what new affiliations are formed? And which aspects of older coalitions continue in the midst of change? What do regions, nations and individuals do when the groups they belong to fall apart or lose power? Larger coalitional shifts tell us much about culture, history, law, media, technology and human behaviour. After Australia and the Western world have moved away from supporting the power and policy of previously dominant groups, questions emerge as to the nature and ethics of collectives (of all kinds) as the expression of political, social and personal change.
This issue of M/C Journal seeks to mount a timely critical reflection on the multiple contemporary meanings and uses of ‘coalition’ and coalitional thinking. How does the notion of coalition inform political practices and powers? How have coalitions changed in recent times? What other (non-political party) coalitions exist and how might they work? How do coalitions inform understandings and expressions of race and whiteness, gender and sexuality, class and poverty, nations and borders? What does it mean to be ‘post-coalitional’ and how might we map persistence and change in recent political and non-political groupings and collectives? We welcome papers identifying texts and behaviours that exemplify coalition, affiliational thinking or behaviours, coalitional crisis, or the current local/global coalitional and post-coalitional conditions in which people live – from larger contexts of geopolitics through to the micropolitics of everyday practices, pleasures and identifications.
Anthony Lambert and Elaine Kelly
Postal: PO BOX A85, Sydney South, NSW 1235
Phone: 0407 466180
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