Political Concepts

Director: Adi Ophir, Visiting Professor of the Humanities and Middle East Studies

The aim of the Political Concepts Initiative is threefold:

  • to revise key concepts in contemporary political discourse and introduce new concepts necessary for understanding a rapidly changing global reality;
  • to practice and reflect upon various types of conceptual performances and to posit the conceptual performance itself as an object of comparative, historical, literary, and philosophical studies; and
  • to use critical reflection focused on concepts as a framework for an ongoing, critical, interdisciplinary and multicultural conversation in the humanities and the social sciences, within the university and among research institutions worldwide.

Political Concepts enhances critical questioning of the political in the widest sense of the notion. 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. Some have proposed revisions of "key" political concepts (including their status as "key concepts"), others showed the political work done by terms and common nouns that are not usually considered “political,” and yet others invented new concepts, trying to capture and explicate what has hitherto been unnoticed or unaccounted for.

The Initiative has two components developed in collaboration with colleagues from Columbia University, CUNY, NYU, and The New School: a series of annual conferences and workshops and the online journal Political Concepts. A first volume of selected papers appeared in print under the title Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon (Fordham University Press, 2018).

Read more about upcoming and past events.