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Saturday, February 29 2020 since 1997 Winter Semester 2019/2020



The loser accompanies the paths of the successful, the winners, in manners either inconspicuous or pushy: as a failure and a flop, powerless and grumbling, hapless and idle, as an undemanding or irksome outsider. Yet the loser doesn’t always assume the position of those who have been defeated by chance or through overly risky bets in the game of careers, the once-in-a-lifetime chances or the speculative gambles in social, political or military battles. Rather, he has in many respects become an internal component of systems which only function because they persistently and inevitably produce casualties. There are losers in modernisation, in globalisation, in education or with respect to German reunification, losers in the restructuring of the welfare state and in economic-political regimes, in other words losers who, as a practically necessary fallout, characterise the changes in global situations.  These losers aren’t simply excluded; in agonistic systems they in effect demonstrate the scarcity of such resources like power, influence, performance, pliability, functionality or hope, the things that determine the beat in this game.  It makes their fate anyone’s potential destiny, and encountering them is an uneasy meeting with your own self.

The Mosse-Lectures in the winter semester of 2006/07 are picking up this central theme in order to gather typologies and case examples of “loserism” from varying (political, literary, historico-cultural and sociological) perspectives. Here we can find gracious and sore losers, heroic and rebellious, radical and shining, decent or simply despairing. In the loser we can not only observe biographic examples of downfalls, he also provides programmes and cues for rebellion and resistance. He may be integrated much not well or not at all, and he often attacks the status and discourse of the winner in situations when he rejects the role of the victim, of the inferior. This is how the street riots in French suburbs were attempted to be seen as a rebellion of the losers; and talk of a clash of civili-zations only made sense if, from the viewpoint of western liberalists, one wanted to make out a dec-laration of war issued by a “culture of losers”. The loser: he is the subject of social reports and cul-tural diagnoses and populates TV shows; he is quoted in daily market values and still delivers stratagems for what is called the new and asymmetrical wars. In all his variations and changes – from the real and regular loser to someone who simply doesn’t accept the rules (or doesn’t accept them any longer) – he provides information as to how the powers, the boundaries and fragilities in the structures of hegemonies manifest themselves.


Roger Willemsen Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 08:15 pm,
Christian Pfeiffer Tuesday, January 23, 2007, 08:15 pm,
Ingo Schulze Tuesday, February 06, 2007, 08:15 pm,
Richard Sennett Thursday, February 15, 2007, 08:15 pm,