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. The Political Concepts Initiative is directed by Adi Ophir, Visiting Professor of Humanities and Middle East Studies. Read more.

Upcoming Events

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Previous Events

  • Dec
    6
    All Day

    Conference • “Political Concepts: Retouch”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    December 6 and 7, 2019

    The 2019 conference of the Political Concepts Initiative , subtitled “Retouch,” addressed questions related to structures of imperialism, racial capitalism, and gender violence catalyzed by movements such as Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests, food sovereignty, and #MeToo. Speakers engaged with concepts through which these crimes and the indispensability of reparations can be described, explained, and analyzed. The conference explored modalities and initiatives of redress, redistribution, and resurgence through which, once these crimes are acknowledged, different worlds can be reimagined and retouched.

    “Retouch” was co-organized by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown University), Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Brown University), Leela Gandhi (Brown University), and Vazira Zamindar (Brown University).

    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
    Poulomi Saha (University of California, Berkeley) • Contingency
    Moderator: Paula Gaetano-Adi (Rhode Island School of Design)
    1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Lunch Break
    3:00 PM – 4:50 PM Emily Owens  (Brown University) • Violence
    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
    Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning) • Resurgence
    Moderator: Itohan Osayimwese (Brown University)
    11:00 AM – 11:20 AM Coffee Break
    11:20 AM – 1:10 PM Imani 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 Ainsley LeSure  (Brown University) • Equality
    Patricia Ybarra (Brown University) • Debt
    Moderator: Ariella Aïsha Azoulay (Brown University)

    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: The Science Edition”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    December 7 and 8, 2018

    The 2018 annual conference of the Political Concepts Initiative  was dedicated to analyzing the contemporary conditions of knowledge production, with a focus on the sciences and the university. The “Science Edition” was co-organized by Timothy Bewes, Leela Gandhi, Adi Ophir, and Lukas Rieppel and brought 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 presented a single concept, one that needed 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 questioned, 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

    This conference was 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
  • Dec
    1

    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 was dedicated to analyzing and contesting the transformation of the American political system under the presidency of Donald Trump. View full video playlist.

    Friday, December 1, 2017

    Session 1 [Video]
    Joan Scott (Institute of Advanced Studies) • Trump
    Zahid R. Chaudhary (Princeton University) • Impunity
    Moderator: Amanda Anderson (Brown University)

    Session 2 [Video]
    Brian Meeks (Brown University) • Hegemony
    Lisa Lowe (Tufts University) • Migrant
    Moderator: Ann Stoler (The New School)

    Session 3 [Video]
    Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University) • Academic Freedom
    Beshara Doumani (Brown University) • Academy
    Moderator: Elizabeth Weed (Brown University)

    Session 4 [Video]
    Benjamin Parker (Brown University) • Disruption
    Anthony Bogues (Brown University) • Disobedience
    Moderator: Leela Gandhi (Brown University)

    Saturday, December 2, 2017

    Session 5 [Video]
    Wendy Chun (Brown University) • Authenticity
    Sara Guindani (Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme) • Transparency
    Moderator: Rebecca Schneider (Brown University)

    Session 6 [Video]
    John Cayley (Brown University) • Reading
    Lynne Joyrich (Brown University) • Television
    Moderator: Timothy Bewes (Brown University)

    Session 7 [Video]
    Nick Mirzoeff (New York University) • Love
    Jack Halberstam (Columbia University) • Wildness
    Moderator: Lingzhen Wang (Brown University

    Session 8 [Video]
    Claire Brault (Brown University) • Uchronia
    Françoise Vergès (Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme) • Water
    Moderator: Susan Buck-Morss (The Graduate Center/City University of New York)

    Conference, Political Concepts Initiative
  • Dec
    2
    All Day

    Conference • “Political Concepts: The Balibar Edition”

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    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.” View full video playlist.

    Friday, December 2, 2016

    Session 1 [Video]
    Jacques Lezra (New York University) • Relation
    Ellen Rooney (Brown University) • Trope
    Moderator: Amanda Anderson (Brown University)

    Session 2 [Video]
    Jay Bernstein (New School for Social Research) • Rights
    Didier Fassin (Institute for Advanced Study/Princeton) • Punishment
    Moderator: Sharon Krause (Brown University)

    Session 3 [Video]
    Emily Apter (New York University) • Equaliberty
    Adi Ophir (Brown University) • Political
    Moderator: Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg (Brown University)

    Session 4 [Video]
    Charles Mills (City University of New York) • Race
    Gary Wilder (City University of New York) • Solidarity
    Bruce Robbins (Columbia University) • Anthropological
    Moderator: Susan Buck-Morss (City University of New York)

    Saturday, December 3, 2016

    Session 5 [Video]
    Judith Butler (University of California/Berkeley) • Religion
    Patrice Maniglier (Université Paris Ouest/Nanterre) • Materialism
    Monique David-Ménard (Université Paris VII; Institute for Cultural Inquiry) • Conversion
    Moderator: Kevin McLaughlin (Brown University)

    Session 6 [Video]
    Ann Stoler (New School for Social Research) • Interior Frontier
    Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia University) • Border
    Moderator: Lukas Rieppel (Brown University)

    Session 7 [Video]
    Michel Feher (Zone Books) • Investee
    Bernard Harcourt (Columbia University) • Contre/Counter
    Moderator: Timothy Bewes (Brown University)

    Session 8 [Video]
    Peter Osborne (Kingston University) • Subject
    Étienne Balibar (Université Paris Ouest/Nanterre; Columbia University) • Concept
    Moderator: Bonnie Honig (Brown University)

    Conference, 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.”

    Friday, December 4, 2015

    Session 1 [Video]
    Sharon Krause, Brown University • Agency
    James Schmidt, Boston University • Publicity
    Moderator: Amanda Anderson, Brown University

    Session 2 [Video]
    Alex Gourevitch, Brown University • Strike
    Thomas A. Lewis, Brown University • Formation
    Moderator: Nathaniel Berman, Brown University

    Session 3 [Video]
    Joan Cocks, Mount Holyoke College • Disappearance
    Branka Arsic, Columbia University • Desert
    Moderator: Bonnie Honig, Brown University

    Session 4 [Video]
    Marc Redfield, Brown University • Shibboleth
    Vazira Zamindar, Brown University • Minority
    Moderator: Adi Ophir, Brown University

    Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Session 5 [Video]
    Joanna Howard, Brown University • Possession
    William Keach, Brown University • Property
    Moderator: Tim Bewes, Brown University

    Session 6 [Video]
    Lukas Rieppel, Brown University • Nature
    Anna Bialek, Brown University • Indeterminacy
    Moderator: Stephen Bush, Brown University

    Session 7 [Video ]
    Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Brown University • Abiura
    Rebecca Schneider, Brown University • Gesture
    Moderator: Gerhard Richter, Brown University

    Session 8 [Video]
    Ariella Azoulay, Brown University • Sovereignty
    James Kuzner, Brown University • Bondage
    Moderator: Thangam Ravindranathan, Brown University

    Conference, 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.”

    Friday, April 10, 2015

    Session 1 [Video]
    Elizabeth Weed • Reality
    Thangam Ravindranathan • Missing
    Moderator: Bonnie Honig

    Session 2 [Video]
    Beshara Doumani • Region
    Lukas Rieppel • Organization
    Moderator: Adi Ophir

    Session 3 [Video]
    Susan Bernstein • Synaesthesia
    Philip Rosen • Cinematic
    Moderator: Lynne Joyrich

    Session 4 [Video]
    Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg • Reclamation
    Gerhard Richter •Inheritance
    Moderator: Joan Copjec

    Saturday, April 11, 2015

    Session 5 [Video]
    Jacques Khalip • Triumph
    Peter Szendy • Katechon
    Moderator: Marc Redfield

    Session 6 [Video]
    Stephen Bush • Ecstasy
    Michael Sawyer • Sacrifice
    Moderator: Ravit Reichman

    Session 7 [Video]
    Timothy Bewes • Free indirect
    Amanda Anderson • Character
    Moderator: Rebecca Schneider

    Session 8 [Video]
    David Wills • Blood
    Jacques Rancière • Occupation
    Moderator: Michael Steinberg

    Conference, 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 were invited to re-think and re-articulate concepts they are working with or to construct new ones that seem necessary for their work.

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Session 1 [Video]
    Étienne Balibar, Columbia University and Université de Paris X • Exploitation
    Andreas Kalyvas, The New School • Statelessness
    Moderator: Michael Steinberg, Brown University

    Session 2
    Ellen Rooney, Brown University • Reading
    Linda Quiquivix, Brown University • Map
    Moderator: Susan Bernstein, Brown University

    Session 3 [Video]
    A. Kiarina Kordela, Macalester College • Horror
    Nathaniel Berman, Brown University • Demonization
    Moderator: Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Brown University

    Session 4 [Video]
    Kevin McLaughlin, Brown University • Raison d’État
    Adi Ophir, Brown University • Concept (ii)
    Moderator: Jay Bernstein, The New School

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Session 5 [Video]
    Elias Muhanna, Brown University • Vernacular
    Jacques Lezra, New York University • Like
    Moderator: Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University

    Session 6 [Video]
    Eduardo Cadava, Princeton University • Trees
    Bonnie Honig, Brown University • Resilience
    Moderator: Barrymore A. Bogues, Brown University

    Session 7 [Video]
    Ariella Azoulay, Brown University • Human Rights
    Federico Finchelstein, The New School • Populism
    Moderator: Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia University

    Session 8 [Video]
    Roundtable with Jay Bernstein, Akeel Bilgrami, Stathis Gourgouris, Adi Ophir, and Ann Stoler (Chair and Participant)

    Conference, Political Concepts Initiative