Displacement or replacement? The failings of liberal and left cultural activism and networking

Owen Logan*, Martyn Hudson, Alex Law, Kirsten Lloyd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper outlines cultural responses to the discourse of le grand remplacement, or great replacement, authored by the gay French writer, poet and self-portraitist Renaud Camus. His theory of cultural replacement has been diffused through far-right or ‘alt-right’ political networks internationally and gains ideological traction more broadly. From this perspective Europeans face an existential threat from immigration policies which encourage homogeneity rather than cultural autonomy and a genuine diversity of societies. We analyse direct and indirect responses to replacement discourse, taking account of the fracture between political and economic liberalism, a fracture evident in the willingness of key liberal thinkers to suspend the rule of law and suppress human rights (Landa 2010). It is argued that cultural and artistic networking provides inadequate and often self-serving compensations for this fracture. Responses to replacement discourse suffer from a ‘reality blindness’ discussed by the refugee sociologist, Norbert Elias, (1887-1990), and may displace more meaningful calls for deliberative democracy. Also recalling Julien Benda’s (1928) The Treason of the Intellectuals, academic discourses concerning displacement fail to address the need for egalitarian educational and cultural reforms, without which organic social fractures and the precarity of displacement are compounded. On the basis of collaborative ethnography with randomised citizen juries, and selected focus groups, we argue that ideological boundaries should be radically tested by taking up Elias’s concept of ‘civilised controversy’ (Law 2018) for the democratic commissioning of artistic and cultural production in the public interest (Logan, Hudson, Law & Lloyd 2023).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2024
EventTransnational activisms: reimagining boundaries in political cultural production - Humanities Institute, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 25 Mar 202426 Mar 2024
https://www.ucd.ie/slcl/t4media/Transnational%20Activisms%20Programme%20-%20March%202024.pdf (Conference programme)


ConferenceTransnational activisms
OtherAn interdisciplinary humanities conference
Internet address


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