The Civic Constellation Project
The Civic Constellation (CivCons) project, three projects so far spanning from 2012 to 2022, draws on the cooperation of a number of research groups and projects from Finland, Italy, Norway, and Spain. Its immediate precedent, Las Retóricas de la Democracia (Rhetorics of Democracy) project, had paved the way for what has become over time an expanding international cooperative network leading to the COST Action 16211 Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe (RECAST), running from 2017 to 2021. Part of its outcomes will be gradually published on this website, at least back to 2009.
Kari Palonen and José María Rosales began to cooperate in 1993 in the framework of the International Political Science Association, in particular at the Research Committee Political Philosophy. That ten-year period, plenty of conferences, seminars and doctoral courses, partly coincided with the establishment in 1998, in London, of a new interdisciplinary network.
There, they jointly participated in the founding meeting in 1998, at London, of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG). Under the initial leadership of Melvin Richter and Kari Palonen, the group has since annually convened scholars from around the world sharing interests in the history of concepts and related methodologies. From its very beginning Jussi Kurunmäki and afterwards Taru Haapala and Rosario López have participated in its proceedings.
Out of HPSCG activites, and in partnership with other institutions, most remarkably the Centre for Nordic Studies at the University of Helsinki, chaired by Henrik Stenius, Concepta, International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought was established in 2006. Kurunmäki has been a board member since the beginning.
A most enriching project was the scientific network The Politics and History of European Democratisation (PHED), funded by the European Science Foundation from 2003 to 2005. Palonen was the chair and Rosales one of its coordinators. Through a public call, the network competitively selected more than forty young scholars from all over Europe. Along with senior scholars, they participated in a series of five international workshops. Over the years, the network has proved an invaluable source of cooperation engaging scholars from different generations, countries and academic backgrounds.
International cooperation between projects was enhanced by the establishment in 2006 of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Political Thought and Conceptual Change. Coordinating three international research teams based at the Universities of Helsinki and Jyväskylä, the Centre became an international research laboratory. Marta Postigo was a postdoctoral research associate and Rosario López a visiting scholar. Most team members have participated at the many events there organized, that in turn, regarding the study of minority rights, opened the cooperation path with The Åland Islands Peace Institute under the directorship of Sia Spiliopoulou-Åkermark. Until the end of 2011 it enjoyed its status at the Academy of Finland, afterwards proceeding as the Centre of Political Thought and Conceptual Change at the University of Jyväskylä, thus diversifying its fund raising options while keeping on its networking activities.
After his sabbatical year at the University of Málaga in 2009, Jan Harald Alnes of the University of Tromsø engaged his Research Group Pluralism, Democracy and Justice in a cooperation program with the Rhetorics of Democracy project and then its successor, the Civ Cons project. In 2010 the first in a series of Contemporary Themes in Ethics and Political Philosophy seminars was held at the University of Tromsø.
Cooperation proceeded along with the establishment of Erasmus and other interinstitutional agreements, thus providing research activities with a formal link to master’s and doctoral programs. The experience in international exchanges by the Finnish National Graduate School in Political Studies in cooperation with the Jyväskylä Centre and, in particular, the University of Jyväskylä’s postgraduate studies, together with the University of Tromsø’s postgraduate programs have encouraged the preparation of the Doctoral Program Estudios Avanzados en Humanidades at the University of Málaga, running since 2013, where members of the project participate.
Over the past few years, cooperation has kept expanding, the program of activities in partnership (workshops, seminars, conference panels) engaging scholars from the fields of philosophy, political science, history, and law, nurturing a growing series of joint international publications.
Since September 2017, after its approval in June, Civic Constellation is linked to the COST Action 16211 Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe (RECAST). Thas has meant a major step in its growth as a project-network.