Notions of political community are implicit in many or most contemporary debates (academic and public) of citizenship, civil society, rule of law, democracy, multiculturalism and human rights. But they are seldom made explicit and subject to analysis and reflection. That has also been our experience at the inter-disciplinary Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL). Having debated aspects of citizenship, civil society and rule of law since our founding in 2009, we have identified political community as a topic that crosscuts the three but which we have yet to comprehend fully. This year we debated the role of valuable resources in political community in our public conference “Politics of Oil & Gas in a Changing UK: International Perspectives” and political community is also key to our current research project on “Schooling in Political Community”. In our draft proposal for the latter project, we do offer a working definition of political community: one whose members have a real stake in political institutions and, for that reason, subject themselves to the decisions of those institutions. We are open to other ways of defining and approaching the topic, though, and we invite participants in our Political Community workshop to give their own answers to the following questions:
1. When “political community” has been the explicit topic of debates, in particular times and places, what is meant by “political” and what is meant by “community”? What is not considered political and what is not community?To give just two examples, how is political community distinguished from religious community? And community from society?
2. What notions of political community have been caught up in citizenship, civil society and rule of law? Does citizenship, for example, always entail political community?
3. Can we identify political community beyond citizenship, civil society and rule of law? For example, are universities political communities? How about families, businesses and churches? Is multitude, as Hardt and Negri suggest, an emergent form of political community? What other emergent political communities might there be?
Speakers include Raul Acosta (anthropology), Matyas Bodig (law), Michael Brown (history), Nigel Dower (philosophy), Ajay Gudavarthy (politics), Tamas Gyorfi (law), Daniel Koltonski (philosophy), Sian Lazar (anthropology), Hanna Lerner (politics), Gal Levy (sociology), Sourayan Moukerjee (cultural studies), Silvia Pasquetti (sociology), Yoav Peled (politics), John Perry (theology), Marton Rovid (IR), and Trevor Stack (anthropology).
Attendance is free but you must reserve a place. Please download the programme at www.abdn.ac.uk/cisrul/events/2269/ and follow the instructions on p. 11 for reserving a place. Email Tracey Connon (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any queries.
Director, Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL) University of Aberdeen.
Recent book Knowing History in Mexico: An Ethnography of Citizenship
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