Political Concepts

The goal of the Political Concepts Initiative is to serve as a platform for revising, inventing, and experimenting with concepts while exploring the political dimension of their use and dissemination. Political Concepts enhances critical questioning of the political in the widest sense of the notion and creates a framework for an ongoing interdisciplinary conversation in the humanities and social sciences. Read more.

Upcoming Events

  • Nov
    20
    6:00pm - 8:00pm

    Political Concepts Reading Group • Capitalism and the Human

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    The Political Concept Reading Group meets monthly. Its 2019-20 theme is Capitalism and the Human, the topic of a conference held at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities on April 3-4, 2020.

    This meeting focuses on excerpts from Asad Haider, Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump (Verso, 2018).

    All are welcome. To receive the readings or if you have questions please contact the reading group’s 2019-20 organizers, Marah Nagelhout ([email protected] ) and Nick Pisanelli ([email protected] ).

    The Capitalism and the Human Reading Group is part of the Political Concepts Initiative.

    Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Dec
    6
    All Day

    Conference • “Political Concepts: Retouch”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    December 6 and 7, 2019

    The 2019 annual conference of the Political Concepts  Initiative is dedicated to the theme of “Retouch” and it explores different modalities and initiatives of repair and reparation, redress and restoration, recovery and renewal, redistribution, remedy and recuperation, resurgence and the retouch of shared worlds. These are impacted by lasting structures of imperialism, racial capitalism, and gender violence.

    Speakers will address questions related to lasting structures of imperialism, racial capitalism, and gender violence, catalyzed by present movements such as Black Lives Matter, DAPL, food sovereignty, and #Me Too. Participants are invited to propose and engage with concepts through which these crimes and the indispensability of reparations and retouch can be described, explained and analyzed, and a different world can be imagined once these crimes are acknowledged.

     

    Friday, December 6, 2019
    8:45 AM – 9:15 AM Gathering & Morning Coffee
    9:15 AM – 9:30 AM Greetings and Opening Remarks
    Timothy Bewes (Cogut Institute for the Humanities)
    9:30 AM – 11:20 AM Keisha-Khan Y. Perry (Brown University) • Occupation
    Jasmine Johnston (University of Pennsylvania) • Choreography
    Moderator: Patsy Lewis (Brown University)
    11:20 AM – 11:40 AM Coffee Break
    11:40 AM – 1:30 PM Dixa Ramírez D’Oleo (Brown University) • Indolence
    Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning) • Resurgence
    Moderator: Sharon Krause (Brown University)
    1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Lunch Break
    3:00 PM – 4:50 PM Marisa Fuentes (Rutgers University) • Refuse
    Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown University) • Errata
    Moderator: Leora Maltz-Leca (Rhode Island School of Design)
    4:50 PM – 5:10 PM Coffee Break
    5:10 PM – 7:00 PM Vazira Zamindar (Brown University) • Waiting
    Tina Campt (Brown University) • Adjacency
    Moderator: Naoko Shibusawa (Brown University)
       
    Saturday, December 7, 2019
    8:45 AM – 9:10 AM Morning Coffee
    9:10 AM – 11:00 AM Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Brown University) • Regard
    Poulomi Saha (University of California, Berkeley) • Contingency
    Moderator: Itohan Osayimwese (Brown University)
    11:00 AM – 11:20 AM Coffee Break
    11:20 AM – 1:10 PM Imami Perry (Princeton University) • Mother
    Thangam Ravindranathan (Brown University) • Elephant
    Moderator: Vazira Zamindar (Brown University)
    1:10 PM – 2:40 PM Lunch Break
    2:40 PM – 4:30 PM Inderpal Grewal (Yale University) • Plural
    Emily Owens (Brown University) • Violence
    Moderator: Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Brown University)
    4:30 PM – 4:50 PM Coffee Break
    4:50 PM – 6:40 PM Patricia Ybarra (Brown University) • Debt
    Saidiya Hartman (Columbia University) • Mutual Aid
    Moderator: Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown University)

    The event is free and open to the public.

    Co-sponsored by the Charles K. Colver Lectureships and Publications, Cogut Institute for the Humanities, Humanities Initiative Programming Fund, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Departments of Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, History, History of Art and Architecture, Literary Arts, and Modern Culture and Media.

    Conference, Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Dec
    7
    All Day

    Conference • “Political Concepts: Retouch”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    December 6 and 7, 2019

    The 2019 annual conference of the Political Concepts  Initiative is dedicated to the theme of “Retouch” and it explores different modalities and initiatives of repair and reparation, redress and restoration, recovery and renewal, redistribution, remedy and recuperation, resurgence and the retouch of shared worlds. These are impacted by lasting structures of imperialism, racial capitalism, and gender violence.

    Speakers will address questions related to lasting structures of imperialism, racial capitalism, and gender violence, catalyzed by present movements such as Black Lives Matter, DAPL, food sovereignty, and #Me Too. Participants are invited to propose and engage with concepts through which these crimes and the indispensability of reparations and retouch can be described, explained and analyzed, and a different world can be imagined once these crimes are acknowledged.

     

    Saturday, December 7, 2019
    8:45 AM – 9:10 AM Morning Coffee
    9:10 AM – 11:00 AM Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Brown University) • Regard
    Poulomi Saha (University of California, Berkeley) • Contingency
    Moderator: Itohan Osayimwese (Brown University)
    11:00 AM – 11:20 AM Coffee Break
    11:20 AM – 1:10 PM Imami Perry (Princeton University) • Mother
    Thangam Ravindranathan (Brown University) • Elephant
    Moderator: Vazira Zamindar (Brown University)
    1:10 PM – 2:40 PM Lunch Break
    2:40 PM – 4:30 PM Inderpal Grewal (Yale University) • Plural
    Emily Owens (Brown University) • Violence
    Moderator: Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Brown University)
    4:30 PM – 4:50 PM Coffee Break
    4:50 PM – 6:40 PM Patricia Ybarra (Brown University) • Debt
    Saidiya Hartman (Columbia University) • Mutual Aid
    Moderator: Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown University)

    The event is free and open to the public.

    Co-sponsored by the Charles K. Colver Lectureships and Publications, Cogut Institute for the Humanities, Humanities Initiative Programming Fund, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Departments of Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, History, History of Art and Architecture, Literary Arts, and Modern Culture and Media.

    Conference, Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Dec
    11
    6:00pm - 8:00pm

    Political Concepts Reading Group • Capitalism and the Human

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    The Political Concept Reading Group meets monthly. Its 2019-20 theme is Capitalism and the Human, the topic of a conference held at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities on April 3-4.

    This meeting focuses on two excerpts from Jason Read’s The Politics of Transindividuality (Brill, 2015):
    • “Transindividuality (A Concept of Marxism)”
    • “Transindividuality as Critique: Spinoza, Hegel, Marx”

    All are welcome. To receive the readings or if you have questions please contact the reading group’s 2019-20 organizers, Marah Nagelhout ([email protected] ) and Nick Pisanelli ([email protected] ).

    The Capitalism and the Human Reading Group is part of the Political Concepts Initiative.

    Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Jan
    29
    6:00pm - 8:00pm

    Political Concepts Reading Group • Capitalism and the Human

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    The Political Concept Reading Group meets monthly. Its 2019-20 theme is Capitalism and the Human, the topic of a conference held at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities on April 3-4.

    This meeting focuses on two essays from Claire Colebrook’s The Death of the Posthuman, and Sex After Life (Open Humanities Press Michigan Publishing, 2014).
    • “Extinct Theory“ and
    • “The Sustainability of Concepts: Knowledge and Human Interests”

    All are welcome. To receive the readings or if you have questions please contact the reading group’s 2019-20 organizers, Marah Nagelhout ([email protected] ) and Nick Pisanelli ([email protected] ).

    The Capitalism and the Human Reading Group is part of the Political Concepts Initiative.

    Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative

Previous Events

  • Oct
    23
    6:00pm - 8:00pm

    Political Concepts Reading Group • “Capitalism and the Human”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    The Political Concept Reading Group meets monthly. Its 2019-20 theme is Capitalism and the Human, the topic of a conference held at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities on April 3-4, 2020.

    Readings and discussions explore the various forms of humanist discourse that have emerged in response to contemporary threats to human autonomy and survival, such as climate crisis, rapid technological innovation, and carceral capitalism. The reading group interrogates the possibility of appealing to “the human” without recourse to the essentialist logic that has denied so many populations the auspices of this very title. It operates under the premise that no theoretical approach to the human is complete without an analysis of capitalism and vice versa. To this end, the group examines the crucial components of capital — from “racializing assemblages,” to the devaluation of unpaid reproductive labor, and the creation of “Cheap Nature” — that have long produced a dominant conception of the human to justify expropriation and sustain capitalist development.

    This second meeting focuses on excerpts from Alexander Weheliye, Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (Duke UPress, 2014).

    All are welcome. To receive the readings, please register for the meeting. (You must be logged into your Brown University email account to access the form.)

    The Capitalism and the Human Reading Group is part of the Political Concepts Initiative.

    Please feel free to contact the reading group’s 2019-20 organizers, Marah Nagelhout ([email protected] ) and Nick Pisanelli ([email protected] ) with any questions you may have.

    Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Sep
    25
    6:30pm - 8:30pm

    Political Concepts Reading Group • “Capitalism and the Human”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    The Political Concept Reading Group meets monthly. Its 2019-20 theme is Capitalism and the Human, the topic of a conference held at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities on April 3-4, 2020.

    Readings and discussions explore the various forms of humanist discourse that have emerged in response to contemporary threats to human autonomy and survival, such as climate crisis, rapid technological innovation, and carceral capitalism. The reading group interrogates the possibility of appealing to “the human” without recourse to the essentialist logic that has denied so many populations the auspices of this very title. It operates under the premise that no theoretical approach to the human is complete without an analysis of capitalism and vice versa. To this end, the group examines the crucial components of capital — from “racializing assemblages,” to the devaluation of unpaid reproductive labor, and the creation of “Cheap Nature” — that have long produced a dominant conception of the human to justify expropriation and sustain capitalist development.

    The first meeting focuses on Louis Althusser’s essay, “Marxism and Humanism,” as well as excerpts from Jason Moore’s recent book, Capitalism in the Web of Life.

    All are welcome. To receive the readings, please register for the meeting.  (You must be logged into your Brown University email account to access the form.)

    The Capitalism and the Human Reading Group is part of the Political Concepts Initiative.

    Please feel free to contact the reading group’s 2019-20 organizers, Marah Nagelhout ([email protected] ) and Nick Pisanelli ([email protected] ) with any questions you may have.

    Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Dec
    7
    All Day

    Conference • “Political Concepts: The Science Edition”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    December 7 and 8, 2018

    The 2018 annual conference of the Political Concepts Initiative  is dedicated to analyzing the contemporary conditions of knowledge production, with a focus on the sciences and the university. The “Science Edition” is co-organized by Timothy Bewes, Leela Gandhi, Adi Ophir, and Lukas Rieppel and brings together scholars with a broad range of disciplinary trainings and affiliations, including for example anthropology, biology, gender studies, history of science, law, media studies, philosophy, physics, and sociology.

    Speakers present a single concept, one that needs to be revised, deconstructed, or invented in order to understand, criticize, and, if necessary resist recent changes in the organization of scientific knowledge and academic knowledge more broadly. This concept is a tool for a critical explication of ways in which scientific knowledges have been impacted by, and integrated into, the neoliberal economy and global order, the forces that have eroded liberal democratic regimes and brought about the disintegration of the common, and the struggles for decolonization, democracy and social justice. Presentations question, first, the ways these processes, forces, and struggles work through the sciences and transform the inner fabric of scientific research and academic practice, and second, how science itself has been shaped as an arena of political struggle. Videos are available on YouTube.  

    Friday, December 7
    8:45 AM – 9:00 AM Greetings and Opening Remarks
    9:00 AM – 11:20 AM Stephanie Dick • Database [video ]
    Dan Hirschman • Stylized Facts [video ]
    Moderator: Adi Ophir
    11:20 AM – 11:40 AM Coffee Break
    11:40 AM – 1:30 PM Rebecca Nedostup • Practice/Praxis [video ]
    Barbara Herrnstein Smith • Scientism [video ]
    Moderator: Sharon Krause
    1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Lunch Break
    3:00 PM – 4:50 PM Alex Csiszar • Peer Review [video ]
    Kaushik Sunder Rajan • Value [video ]
    Moderator: Alka Menon
    4:50 PM – 5:10 PM Coffee Break
    5:10 PM – 7:00 PM Raphael Sassower • Scientific Progress [video ]
    Tamara Chin • Homo Geoeconomicus [video ]
    Moderator: Etienne Balibar
       
    Saturday, December 8
    9:10 AM – 11:00 AM Etienne Benson • Environment [video ]
    Joanna Radin • Future [video ]
    Moderator: Timothy Bewes
    11:00 AM – 11:20 AM Coffee Break
    11:20 AM – 1:10 PM Mara Mills • Impairment [video ]
    Iris Montero • Scala Naturae [video ]
    Moderator: Leela Gandhi
    1:10 PM – 2:40 PM Lunch Break
    2:40 PM – 4:30 PM Banu Subramaniam • Diaspora/e [video unavailable]
    Suman Seth • Race [video unavailable]
    Moderator: Lukas Rieppel
    4:30 PM – 4:50 PM Coffee Break
    4:50 PM – 6:40 PM Yarden Katz • Entrepreneurial Science [video ]
    Peter Galison and Noah Feldman • Corporatized Knowledge [video ]
    Moderator: Jacques Lezra

    The event is free and open to the public.

    This conference is funded in part by the Herbert H. Goldberger Lectureship, the CV Starr Foundation Lectureship, the Humanities Initiative Programming Fund, and the Program in Science, Technologies, and Society.

    Conference, History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities, Political Concepts Initiative, Social Sciences
  • The goal of Political Concepts is to experiment with modes of concept analysis as a tool for enhancing critical questioning of the political, in the widest sense, and to create a framework for an ongoing interdisciplinary conversation in the humanities and social sciences. It offers a platform for exploring the political dimensions of the way concepts work, are used, and disseminated. The 2017-18 conference is dedicated to analyzing and contesting the transformation of the American political system under the presidency of Donald Trump.

    Speakers include: Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University (“Academic Freedom”); Anthony Bogues, Brown University (“Disobedience”); Claire Brault, Brown University (“Uchronia”); John Cayley, Brown University (“Reading”); Wendy Chun, Brown University (“Authenticity”); Zahid R. Chaudhary, Princeton University (“Impunit”); Beshara Doumani, Brown University (“Academy”); Sara Guindani, Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (“Transparency”); Jack Halberstam, Columbia (“Wildness”); Lynne Joyrich, Brown University (“Television”; Lisa Lowe, Tufts University (“Migrant”); Brian Meeks, Brown University (“Hegemony”); Nicholas Mirzoeff, New York University (“Love”); Paul Nahme, Brown University (“Disenchantment”); Ben Parker, Brown University (“Disruption”); Joan Scott, Institute of Advance Studies (“Trump”); and Françoise Vergès, Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison de sciences de l’homme, and the Cogut Center for the Humanities, Brown University (“Water”).

    Conference, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Dec
    2

    The goal of Political Concepts is to serve as a platform for revising, inventing, and experimenting with concepts while exploring the political dimension of their use and dissemination. Participants operate under the assumption that our era urgently needs a revised political lexicon that would help us better understand the world in which we live and act, and that the humanities at large can and should contribute toward such a revision. In the past, some of the participants revised key political concepts while others showed the political work done by terms and common nouns that are not usually considered “political.”


    Speakers include: Jacques Lezra, New York University (NYU); Ellen Rooney, Modern Culture and Media/English; Jay Bernstein, New School for Social Research; Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study/Princeton; Emily Apter, NYU; Adi Ophir, Cogut Center for the Humanities/Middle East Studies; Charles Mills, City University of New York (CUNY); Bruce Robbins, Columbia University; Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia; Judith Butler, University of California/Berkeley; Patrice Maniglier, Université Paris Ouest/Nanterre; Monique David-Ménard, Université Paris VII/Diderot and Institute for Cultural Inquiry/Berlin; Ann Stoler, New School; Gary Wilder, CUNY; Michel Feher, Zone Books; Bernard Harcourt, Columbia; Peter Osborne, Kingston University/London; and Étienne Balibar, Université Paris Ouest/Nanterre and Columbia.

    Political Concepts Initiative
  • The goal of Political Concepts is to serve as a platform for revising, inventing, and experimenting with concepts while exploring the political dimension of their use and dissemination. Participants operate under the assumption that our era urgently needs a revised political lexicon that would help us better understand the world in which we live and act, and that the humanities at large can and should contribute toward such a revision. In the past, some of the participants revised key political concepts while others showed the political work done by terms and common nouns that are not usually considered “political.”
    Concepts under consideration at this event: Abiura, Agency, Bondage, Desert, Disappearance, Formation, Gesture, Indeterminacy, Minority, Nature, Possession, Property, Publicity, Shibboleth, Sovereignty and Strike.

    Political Concepts Initiative
  • The goal of Political Concepts is to serve as a platform for revising, inventing, and experimenting with concepts while exploring the political dimension of their use and dissemination. Participants operate under the assumption that our era urgently needs a revised political lexicon that would help us better understand the world in which we live and act, and that the humanities at large can and should contribute toward such a revision. In the past, some of the participants revised key political concepts while others showed the political work done by terms and common nouns that are not usually considered “political.”


    Speakers include: Amanda Anderson, English; Susan Bernstein, Comparative Literature/German Studies; Timothy Bewes, English; Stephen Bush, Religious Studies; Beshara Doumani, Middle East Studies; Jacques Khalip, English; Jacques Ranciere, Philosophy, European Graduate School, Saas-Fee; Thangam Ravindranathan, French Studies; Gerhard Richter, German Studies/Comparative Literature; Lukas Rieppel, History; Philip Rosen, Modern Culture and Media; Michael Sawyer, Africana Studies; Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Pembroke Center/Italian Studies/Comparative Literature; Peter Szendy, Comparative Literature; Elizabeth Weed, Pembroke Center; David Wills, French Studies.
    Moderators include: Joan Copjec, Modern Culture and Media; Bonnie Honig, Modern Culture and Media / Political Sciences; Lynne Joyrich, Modern Culture and Media; Adi Ophir, Cogut Center for the Humanities/ Middle East Studies; Marc Redfield, Comparative Literature; Ravit Reichman, English; Rebecca Schneider, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies; and Michael Steinberg, Cogut Center for the Humanities.

    Political Concepts Initiative
  • An ongoing project, “Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon” takes as its goal to serve as a platform for revising, inventing, and experimenting with concepts while exploring the political dimension of their use and dissemination. The project’s participants operate under the assumption that our era urgently needs a revised political lexicon that would help us better understand the world in which we live and act, and that the humanities at large can and should contribute toward such a revision. In the past, some of the participants revised key political concepts while others showed the political work done by terms and common nouns that are not usually considered “political.”

    Scholars from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are invited to re-think and re-articulate concepts they are working with or to construct new ones that seem necessary for their work.
    Speakers include: Ariella Azoulay, Brown University; Étienne Balibar, Columbia University and Université de Paris X; Nathaniel Berman, Brown University; Eduardo Cadava, Princeton University; Jean Comaroff, Harvard University; Federico Finchelstein, The New School; Bonnie Honig, Brown University; Andreas Kalyvas, The New School; A. Kiarina Kordela, Macalester College; Jacques Lezra, New York University; Achille Mbembe, Duke University and University of the Witwatersrands; Kevin McLaughlin, Brown University; Elias Muhanna, Brown University; Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University/Brown; Linda Quiquivix, Brown University; and Ellen Rooney, Brown University.
    Panel chairs include: Jay Bernstein, The New School; Susan Bernstein, Brown University; Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University; Barrymore Bogues, Brown University; Stathis Gourgouis, Columbia University; Michael Steinberg, Brown University; Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Brown University; and Ann Stoler, The New School.

    Political Concepts Initiative