The idea of the alternative State of the Union was born in 2023, when a group of researchers decided to organise a pilot event that was meant to provide an alternative to the opaque, top-down, and elitist “State of the Union” conference organised by the EUI. This is not the first time such an event has been organized and we are grateful for all those that have come before us, such as the Colletivo Prezzomolo. They have nurtured the idea of the EUI as a space for serious, critical, and realistic discussions of what the EU is and what it ought to be. 

In this first “pilot”, we primarily reflected on what an event such as the official State of the Union conference means for us as researchers at the EUI and what type of event and discussions we would like to see in its place. Out of this initial reflection, the idea for the AltSOU as an (un)conference was born. An idea that started out of resistance to the official State of the Union, however this idea has developed far beyond that.

With the AltSOU we wish to create an (un)conference that we as researchers shape from the very beginning. A space for us to gather and reflect on our role as researchers and academics, to engage with and archive our immanent and intersectional critique of the EUI and neo-liberal academia more broadly. A place that we hope may function as a counterpoint to the often insular and elitist discussions of academia; giving voice to the youth, to the marginalised, and to those often forgotten or silenced in the debates in and about Europe. 

We believe that the role of academia is to question the status quo and to analyse, highlight, and criticise power. We must offer visions and enable discourses about possible futures. The EUI should be a place for research excellency, as well as a place for diverse opinions and intense debate. It should not be content functioning as a think tank for the EU and its elites. It should not be a place where eurocentric, technocratic, and elitist positions are formed and strengthened. 

We want to be able to produce tangible critiques and alternatives.

We believe that another world is possible.