EXTENDED SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 20th September, 2015
BRAGA COLLOQUIUM IN THE HISTORY OF MORAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
“Representation, the People, and Political Leadership”
University of Minho (Braga – Portugal)
14-15 January 2016
Nadia Urbinati (Columbia University)
Call for papers
The Political Theory Group of the University of Minho is delighted to announce the inaugural event of the Braga Colloquium in the History of Moral and Political Philosophy: an international annual conference to be held every year in January at the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal. The purpose of this new conference series is to promote the study of the tradition of political and moral philosophy and its legacy in shaping our institutions, culture and beliefs. In this important respect, the conference series will focus on how this tradition can contribute to tackling the challenges our societies are facing today. Every year the conference will focus on a specific theme, which will be chosen by taking in consideration the current political situation in Europe (and beyond).
In line with the spirit behind this new series of conferences, the first edition of the Braga Colloquium in the History of Moral and Political Philosophy will be dedicated to explore the ideas of “representation”, “the people”, and “political leadership”. Since Thomas Hobbes, we have come to understand that the idea of the ‘sovereign people’, and its expression by the state through the idea of representation, is a fiction that makes possible the collective exercise of power on the large scale of modern states. Modern thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, the Federalists, Burke, and Weber or, more recently, Pitkin, Habermas, Rawls, Arendt, or Pettit, have offered a rich panoply of ways of constructing such a fiction. But also in the ancient tradition of, say, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, or Marsilius of Padua, when the question of ‘representation’ was still not explicitly thematized, we can find suggestive insights to think about this topic. Importantly, these different fictional accounts of ‘the sovereign people’ yield different political outcomes, different forms of state, different forms of political participation, different relationships between the people and their political representatives, and so on. At the same time, each of these fictions are based on some critical assumptions regarding, for instance, the capacities needed to engage in politics and how they are distributed among the people, the source of political authority, the level of (in)commensurability between different worldviews, what it means to represent in political terms, and so on.
The deep crisis of representative institutions in Europe’s and the concomitant rise of new (or supposedly new) forms of populism have made it absolutely urgent to reassess how we articulate the relationship between our ideas of ‘representation’, ‘the people’, and ‘political leadership’, in particular taking into consideration which political outcomes our conceptions engender and on which political assumptions they are based. We invite scholars interested in these topics to propose papers that interrogate the history of moral and political thought?ancient, modern, and contemporary?in order to illuminate our current predicament.