Events

Rousseau and Republicanism—A Day-Long Conference

General Programming

September 21, 2012 Friday, 9:00am–7:15pm EDT The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Cosponsors
  • University Seminar on Studies in Political and Social Thought
  • Department of Political Science
  • Blinken European Institute
Organizers
  • David Johnston
  • Nadia Urbinati
Notes
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated
  • Photo ID required for entry

2012 marks the 300th anniversary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s birth and the 250th anniversary of his Social Contract. This conference, intended to celebrate these milestones, will be held under the auspices of the Conference for the Study of Political Thought (CSPT), a professional association.

The conference will focus on four themes:

1. The Republican Tradition in Rousseau’s Work. Interpreting Rousseau as a republican author entails an investigation of Rousseau’s republican authors. This is a topic of great significance. On the one hand, it pertains to the impact of the ancients in the making of what the moderns thought modernity was or ought to be. Republicanism was the political tradition that linked the moderns to the ancients in a dialectical relation of reception, transformation and rejection of political categories and values. Rousseau’s political thought mirrored this complexity, as his reading of ancient and modern republican authors show. Cicero, Plutarch and Tacitus were some of the authors Rousseau loved. On the other hand, studying Rousseau’s republican authors brings us to the modern authors whose works Rousseau read and absorbed, and whose work was also the outcome of the interpretation of the ancients, as for instance Machiavelli, Harrington, Sidney, Spinoza and Montesquieu. Through Rousseau it is possible to reconstruct the trajectory of the theoretical and historical transformation of the republican tradition in its entirety.

2. The Social Contract. The second theme of the conference focuses on the analysis of the Social Contract as a text that advanced a fundamental turn in republican theory by incorporating the rhetorical and humanist tradition (from Cicero to Machiavelli) within the conceptual body of the modern doctrine of sovereignty (from Bodin and Hobbes to Spinoza). The development of republicanism from civic religion and virtue to the reconfiguration of sovereignty from monarchical to popular and the redefinition of legitimacy from the point of view of the issue of “who” decides are the central themes in the Social Contract, and the place in which modern republicanism and democracy meet.

3. Rousseau’s Impact on the Republican Tradition. The third theme proposes an analysis of the place of Rousseau’s political vision in the making of the republican theory of liberty and government beginning with the French revolution onward. The movements of national self-determination that started after Napoleon’s imperial domination, and moreover the critical reflection on the responsibility of the Terror marked the revision of both republicanism and the role of Rousseau’s thought in it, with the debate of the responsibility of his theory of liberty in the illiberal trajectory of the doctrine of popular sovereignty.

4. Rousseau’s Impact on Recent and Contemporary Democratic Theory. The meaning of citizenship, inclusion and equality are the main themes in the study of the impact of Rousseau’s ideas in the making of democratic theory. The theory of popular democracy, the question of the relationship between formal and substantial equality, the issue of the rules and limits of political decisions, and finally of the role of truth in political deliberation are somehow indebted to Rousseau and still central in contemporary political theory. In conclusion, Rousseau’s anniversaries can be an excellent opportunity for a critical examination of the legacy of French revolution in contemporary interpretations of democracy and liberty.

Program

September 21, 2012  Friday

9:00am EST

Coffee and Opening Remarks by Nadia Urbinati

9:30am - 11:15am EST

Rousseau's Political Thought in Ideological Context
Chair

David Johnston

Professor of Political Science

Columbia University

Featured Speaker

Johnson Kent Wright

Associate Professor of History

Arizona State University

Featured Speaker

Helena Rosenblatt

Professor of History

City University of New York

Discussant

Anna Stilz

Assistant Professor

Princeton University

11:30am - 1:15pm EST

Rousseau and Republican Institutions
Chair

Bryan Garsten

Professor of Political Science

Yale University

Featured Speaker

Ronald Beiner

Professor of Political Science

University of Toronto

Featured Speaker

Jean-Fabien Spitz

Professor of Political Philosophy

Université Paris 1

Discussant

Melissa Schwartzberg

Associate Professor of Political Science and Classics

Columbia University

1:15pm EST

Lunch

2:30pm - 4:15pm EST

The Republic as an Idea
Chair

Nadia Urbinati

Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies

Columbia University

Featured Speaker

Arash Abizadeh

Associate Professor of Political Science

McGill University

Featured Speaker

Marco Geuna

Associate Professor of History of Political Philosophy

University of Milan

Discussant

Jean Cohen

Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Political Theory and Contemporary Civilization

Columbia University

4:30pm - 6:15pm EST

Rousseauian Reflections beyond the Social Contract
Chair

Karuna Mantena

Associate Professor of Political Science

Yale University

Featured Speaker

Rosanne Kennedy

Faculty

New York University

Featured Speaker

Chiara Bottici

Assistant Professor

New School for Social Research

Discussant

6:15pm EST

Reception
Participants
  • Arash Abizadeh Associate Professor of Political Science McGill University
  • Ronald Beiner Professor of Political Science University of Toronto
  • Chiara Bottici Assistant Professor New School for Social Research
  • Jean Cohen Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Political Theory and Contemporary Civilization Columbia University
  • Turkuler Isiksel James P. Shenton Assistant Professor of the Core Curriculum Columbia University
  • Bryan Garsten Professor of Political Science Yale University
  • Marco Geuna Associate Professor of History of Political Philosophy University of Milan
  • Lucien Jaume Senior Researcher Centre for Political Research at Sciences Po, Paris
  • David Johnston Professor of Political Science Columbia University
  • Rosanne Kennedy Faculty New York University
  • Karuna Mantena Associate Professor of Political Science Yale University
  • Helena Rosenblatt Professor of History City University of New York
  • Melissa Schwartzberg Associate Professor of Political Science and Classics Columbia University
  • Anna Stilz Assistant Professor Princeton University
  • Jean-Fabien Spitz Professor of Political Philosophy Université Paris 1
  • Nadia Urbinati Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies Columbia University
  • David Johnston Professor of Political Science Columbia University