RIGHT OF RESISTANCE: Theory, Politics, Law (16th-21st century)
Brunel University – London, 8th-9th February 2012
The connection between the right of resistance, the pluralism of rights, powers, and jurisdictions, weakens after the sunset of the medieval legal system in the early modern age. On the one hand, the forces that resisted the establishment of the power of the modern state and that played a major role within the political conflict of the earlier ages, were progressively ejected from the sphere of legitimacy. On the other hand, reflection on the right of resistance became the principal argument of opposition against the theoretical and legal positions supporting the construction of the modern State.
Theories of the right of resistance are very diverse, depending on the authors and the contexts within which they have been developed. Generally though, they become a theoretical point of attraction for alternative discourses that oppose the formation of the State and the establishment of an exclusive link between sovereignity and normative production.
With the crisis of the feudal world in the early modern age, the right of resistance becomes a theoretical counter-power against new forms of dominion, while the bourgeois revolutions bring the conception of resistance exercised within the constitutional framework. Here, the right of resistance finds its most evocative expression within the dialectic of the two paradigms of constituent power and constituted power.
The affirmation of the fundamental principles of liberal constitutionalism (characterized by alternative and conflicting perspectives on constitutional modernity as well as on constituent capacity causes the right of resistance to be absorbed and neutralized within the typical warranties of the rule of law. The constituent power itself is absorbed by the modern bourgeois idea of representation.
With the social tensions, struggles for recognition, and constitutional integration in the 19th and 20th century we see the rising of different theories of opposition, transferring older practices of resistance to new legal institutions and bodies. Thus the tension between democracy (intended as power and absolute government) on one hand, and constitutionalism (intended as a theory and practice of limited government) on the other, remains latent yet present.
We witness today the crumbling of the exclusive link between the State and the production and interpretation of norms. This process is taking place within the more general crisis of the modern conception of sovereignity, intended as suprema potestas. In this crisis, theoretical lines of fracture resurface: social, ethnic, religious, and political fractures that give birth to new practices of resistance, veto, and opposition within the framework of both local and global phenomena of contestation of new and traditional forms of oppression.
Therefore, the claiming and oppositional dimension of early constitutionalism, popular sovereignity, and tutelage of fundamental rights suggests the possibility of recovering that “negative source” of sovereignity that faded away during the establishment of the modern state.
Here lies the proposal of a fresh reflection on theories of resistance between the early modern and the contemporary period. Within those theories, we aim to individuate alternative proposals to the formation of the modern state, as well as to understand the elements of affinity and continuity with today’s oppositional and conflictual practices on a global scale.
We will devote two conferences to this topic in Spring 2012. The first one will be held in London, at Brunel University, and the second one in Rome, at the Fondazione ‘Adriano Olivetti.’ Selected papers from the conferences will be considered for publication.
Speakers include: Warren Montag (Occidental College, Los Angeles), Antonio Negri (Uninomade), Susanne Sreedhar (Boston University), Mario Turchetti (Université de Fribourg).
The conference organizers welcome interdisciplinary papers, comparative works and different methodologies. Proposals are invited for the London conference, for 30-minute papers in English which may address, but are not limited to, the following authors, topics, and areas:
• Machiavelli, Calvin, Althusius, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Schmitt, Benjamin, Lenin, Gramsci, Fanon, Deleuze, Foucault.
• Secession, sedition, stasis, civil war;
• Philosophers and resistance;
• The theologico-political dimension of the right of resistance;
• Resistance and the Commons;
• Tyranny and tyrannicide;
• Slavery and resistance;
• Gendered resistance;
• Race and resistance;
• Constituent power vs constituted power;
Please email your proposal, including a 500 word abstract (with title), curriculum vitae or brief academic biography, contact information, and audiovisual needs, if any, to Filippo Del Lucchese (Brunel University – London): firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com, by November 30th, 2011.
Funding might be available. Please indicate if you can self fund, or if not, what level of assistance you would need.
Filippo Del Lucchese
Department of Politics and History
School of Social Sciences
Brunel University - London
Uxbridge - UB8 3PH (UK) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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