WG 3 Workshop 1

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COST Action CA 16211 RECAST

Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe

Concepts 1

Hosted by the Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos of the University of Coimbra, this first workshop of Working Group 3: Concepts of COST Action RECAST, is scheduled for 2–3 November 2018 in Coimbra, Portugal.

Convened by Gonçalo Marcelo (University of Coimbra) and Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä), its title is Reconceptualizing Civic Rights and Democracy.

Call for Papers




The first workshop of Working Group 3: Concepts, titled Reconceptualizing Civic Rights and Democracy was hosted by the Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos (Centre for Classical and Humanistic Studies) at the University of Coimbra 2–3 November 2018. In its first day the workshop took place partly simultaneously with the Second Management Committee meeting.

The workshop was exploratory in nature with the overall ambition to discuss key concepts operating at several different levels in the debates on civic rights and democracy, assess their specific, context bound semantic changes, and aiming to eventually contribute to redefine some of them. The purpose was also to discuss the central theoretical paths and questions to be explored in the two subsequent workshops of the working group during its four-year work, and to begin to outline the publication plan of the main results.

During the two-day workshop altogether nineteen papers were presented in six thematic sessions. Paper givers, representing different research career stages and disciplines, including both MC and non-MC members, came from universities in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.

On 2 November the opening words of the workshop were delivered by Professor Delfim Ferreira Leão, Director of Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos (Centre for Classical and Humanistic Studies).

The first session focused on rethinking liberal democracy and public interest. It included two presentations: “About the Static and the Dynamic in the Category  of the Political Center: A Historical Conceptual Approach to its Forms and its Relation to Liberal Democracy” by Sergio Brea García (University of Oviedo), and “Public Interest Disclosures: The Semantics of an Adversarial Concept” by Daniele Santoro (University of Minho). The session thus kicked off a debate on liberal democracy that would be pursued in other sessions of the workshop.

The second session delved on a discussion revolving around two kindred concepts, solidarity and vulnerability, with papers from Francesco Camboni  (University of Eastern Piedmont): “Rediscovering Solidarity: An Analytical Exploration” and Maija Mustaniemi-Laakso (Åbo Akademi University): “(Re)conceptualizing Vulnerability”.

The concepts of power, recognition and colonialism were at the centre of the third session with critical theoretical perspectives from Gonçalo Marcelo (University of Coimbra / Católica Porto): “Recognition and Social Change”, Marcela Uchoa (University of Coimbra): “The Coloniality of Power: Imperialism, Colonialism and Segmentarity”, and Gianluca Ronca (UCLM (Spain) / University of Rome, Tor Vergata): “Human Rights and Counterhegemony: A Proposal for a Critical Theory of Transitional Justice”.

The fourth and last session of the day encompassed readings on the concepts of the political, critique and liberalism. Three presentations were included: “Reformulating the Political: Pragmatist Understanding of Politics as Everyday Practices” by Leszek Koczanowicz (SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty in Wrocław), “Revisiting the Concept of Critique: Therapy, Emancipation and Participation” by Lotar Rasiński (University of Lower Silesia, Wrocław), and  “Conservative Critique of Liberalism in Central Europe (The Cases of Slovakia and Poland)” by Vasil Gluchman (University of Prešov).

The second day, 3 November, began with three presentations analysing contemporary challenges to democracy, with a focus on populism and the problem of so-called “post-truth”, which is often associated with current populist phenomena: “Exploring Populism in its Transformations” by Meike Schmidt-Gleim (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna), “(Re)conceptualizing ‘The People’ as the Sovereign” by Ruzha Smilova (Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and Centre for Liberal Strategies), and “Some Critical Comments on the Decline of the Public Sphere in the Post-Truth Era” by Francisco Javier Gil Martín (University of Oviedo).

The sixth session was devoted to reassessing civic rights and democracy in political practices, focusing on concrete cases from different geographies (in this case, Israel and Spain) with presentations from Sobhi Rayan (Al-Qasemi Academy): “Civic Rights and Democracy: The Relationship Between Arabs and Jews in Israel”, and Carles José i Mestre (University of Barcelona): “Democracy and the Catalan Case: A Non-Conjunctural Approach”.

The seventh session reconceptualised otherness with three presentations focusing on citizenship, refugees, human rights and intergenerational justice:  “Who is the Other? Civic Rights, Citizenship and National Ideology in 20th-Century Greece” by Emilia Salvanou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), “Rights, Democracy and Structural Violence: The Paradoxes of Rights’ Entitlement Seen from the EU’s Refugee Relocation Programme” by Octávio Sacramento and Pedro Gabriel Silva (Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro), “Reconceptualizing Human Rights and Forced Displacement” by Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä), and “Cross-Temporal Human Rights: The Present of the Future of Democracy” by André Santos Campos (Nova University of Lisbon).

The workshop ended with concluding words from the conveners with remarks on future plans, tasks and collaboration related to the WG 3: Concepts, including a brief discussion on the date and location possibilities for the second workshop, publication possibilities and an invitation to all participants to continue participating in the WG and keep expanding its reach through the networking tools of the COST Action RECAST. The workshop provided stimulating analysis and discussions from multidisciplinary perspectives on topical themes to be further explored in the two following workshops of the WG.

(Please note this report complements the programme.)

Gonçalo Marcelo (University of Coimbra / Católica Porto Business School)
Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä)

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