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Reworking Political Concepts I: A Lexicon in Formation

General Programming

  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • The New School for Social Research
  • Adi Ophir
  • Ann Stoler
  • Hagar Kotef
  • Elizabeth Povinelli

Political Concepts is a multidisciplinary project and annual conference that seeks to be a forum for engaged scholarship, conversation, and constructive debate rather than the construction of an encyclopedic ideal. This conference is the fifth in the series and the project is guided by one formal principle: the Socratic question “what is x?” and the theoretical principle: the concepts defined should be relevant to political thought and, more broadly, to thinking about the political. The questions—what is political thought and what is the political?—are not predetermined but open to continuing study and debate. These conferences together attempt to redefine both the boundaries of the political (and with them, the disciplinary boundaries of political philosophy or theory) and the elements included within those boundaries.

This ongoing lexical project does not presume to secure a specific usage or history of the concepts in question. Instead, it invites explorations that move between different perspectives, bringing together conflicting interpretations and seeking to surface disciplinary and cultural differences. It is a call both to form an index, an order—to distinguish and differentiate an “x” (a concept, a matter at hand)—and to disrupt this very order by refusing the attempt to contain meaning within the boundaries of a rigid definition. This duality is constitutive of the project itself, which seeks to open the discussion launched by the Socratic question rather than to bring it to an end.

Gil Anidjar on "Blood“
Ariella Azoulay on "Photography“
Claudia Baracchi on "Force“
Jay Bernstein on "Torture“
Akeel Bilgrami on "Identity“
Jean Cohen on "Federation"
Simon Critchley on "Philosopher"
Joshua Dubler on "Guilt"
Andreas Kalyvas on "Constituent Power"
Hagar Kotef on "Balance"
Adi Ophir on "Concept"
Elizabeth Povinelli on "Endurance"
Janet Roitman on "Crisis“
Patrick Singy on "Sexuality"
Ann Stoler on "Colony”
and Yves Winter on "Conquest”

The conference is co-sponsored by The New School for Social Research.

  • Gil Anidjar Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Columbia University
  • Ariella Azoulay Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media Brown University
  • Claudia Baracchi Associate Professor of Moral Philosophy University of Milano-Bicocca
  • Jay Bernstein Professor of Philosophy The New School
  • Akeel Bilgrami Professor of Philosophy Columbia University
  • Jean Cohen Professor of Political Science Columbia University
  • Simon Critchley Professor of Philosophy The New School
  • Joshua Dubler Associate Professor of Religion University of Rochester
  • Andreas Kalyvas Associate Professor of Politics The New School
  • Hagar Kotef Fellow at the Society of Fellows Columbia University
  • Adi Ophir Professor Emeritus Tel Aviv University
  • Elizabeth Povinelli Professor of Anthropology Columbia University
  • Janet Roitman Professor of Anthropology The New School
  • Patrick Singy Fellow at the Society of Fellows Columbia University
  • Ann Stoler Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies The New School
  • Yves Winter Associate Professor of Political Science McGill University