Love in the Time of Crisis: Examining the Subject of Love in the Southbank's Festival of Love (2016)


  • Rachel Cockburn



social materialism, political philosophy, love, performance, governmentality, pietism


This article is an interrogation of love, as it is understood, conceptualised, and practiced in the social sphere, focussing specifically on the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love (London, UK, 2016). By drawing on Christian Lotz’s social material critique of love (2015), and Michel Foucault’s theory of governmentality (2009) I argue that the Festival of Love, whilst asserting love as celebratory and aspirational, does in fact demonstrate the governmentalised love of modern liberal governance.

Following this I engage with Gillian Rose’s discussion of love in periods of social crisis (1992) in order to articulate what might be understood as the ambitions of governmentalised love, and, moreover, what is at stake in this politically. In doing so I draw out the dangers of love as a concept and practice of modern governance, so as to stress the importance of thinking love differently, as an ethico-political practice.

Author Biography

Rachel Cockburn

Rachel Cockburn is an independent scholar, teacher and student cellist, based in London, UK. Her research is situated within the field of performance philosophy, specifically the intersection of philosophy, political theory, and aesthetic practice, and she holds a PhD (2015) form the University of London. Rachel has a number of published works, including recent chapter contributions in Performing Antagonism: Theatre, Performance, & Radical Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) and Performing Interdisciplinarity (Routledge 2018).


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How to Cite

Cockburn, Rachel. 2018. “Love in the Time of Crisis: Examining the Subject of Love in the Southbank’s Festival of Love (2016)”. Performance Philosophy 4 (1):157-69.