WG3 Workshop 3
COST Action CA 16211 RECAST
Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe
Coorganized by the University of Jyväskylä and the Center for Classical and Humanistic Studies of the University of Coimbra, this third workshop of Working Group 3: Concepts of COST Action RECAST is scheduled for 7–8 June 2021 as an online event.
Convened by Gonçalo Marcelo (University of Coimbra) and Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä), its title is Reconceptualizing the State of Exception and its Challenges to Democracy and Rights in Europe.
Coorganized by the University of Jyväskylä and the Center for Classical and Humanistic Studies (CECH) of the University of Coimbra, the third workshop of Working Group 3: Concepts of COST Action RECAST took place in 7–8 June 2021 as an online event.
Convened by Gonçalo Marcelo (CECH, University of Coimbra) and Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä), its title is Reconceptualizing the State of Exception and its Challenges to Democracy and Rights in Europe.
Similarly to Working Group 3’s previous workshop, and taking into account the restrictions to mobility in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, the online workshop took place in one day and a half, in the morning and afternoon of June 7 and morning of June 8, as a publication-oriented workshop. Participants were asked to circulate 2000-word extended abstracts of their papers prior to the workshop, and presentations were kept to fifteen minutes followed by twenty minutes of feedback and discussion. This feedback was intended both to help clarify some aspects of each presentation and also to build the thematic coherence needed for the final publication of a special issue in a journal that the workshop aims to have as its result.
Paper presentations were divided in five thematic sessions, bringing together thirteen participants (plus the conveners) delivering twelve presentations. Participants were affiliated with institutions from nine different countries: Croatia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom. While some of the presentations were made by scholars who had already participated in previous workshops organized by Working Group 3, the majority of participants were new to this working group, which fulfils the goal of COST as a networking platform, and the rationale of RECAST as promoting a fluid membership to Working Groups with open call for papers for each workshop. Among participants there were senior scholars, but there was a majority of early-career researchers, including PhD students.
The main goal of this workshop was to explore the fertility of the concept of the state of exception / emergency rule, as originally conceived by Carl Schmitt, Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben and others, to discuss the challenges put forward to democracy and civic rights in Europe in the context of the several forms of emergency rule enforced in Europe recently, in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. Given that Working Group 3’s approach is conceptual, most papers had a theoretical focus, but many of them also included empirical aspects, for instance in the analysis of both historical and contemporary forms of emergency rules in different European constituencies.
The first day kicked off with some brief welcome words by RECAST’s chair, José María Rosales, and the two conveners. The session welcomed participants and explained the procedures adopted in the workshop. Immediately afterwards, session 1, titled “Carl Schmitt’s Legacy” (chair: José María Rosales), aimed to analyze Schmitt’s seminal conceptualization of the state of exception and its tension with democracy. The panel also discussed the differences between Schmitt and Kelsen, and the way in which the state of exception in the current pandemic situation might be interpreted through readings contrasting Schmitt, Agamben and Foucault. In this panel, three papers were presented: Alexandre Franco de Sá (CECH, University of Coimbra) – State of Exception and Democracy: Is Carl Schmitt Still Alive?; Jorge Varela (Kingston University London) – The State of Exception as Cosmology: Evidence from the Epidemic; and Luke Collison (Kingston University London) – Regulating the Exception: Foucault’s Critique of Schmitt.
After a lunch break, the workshop reconvened in the afternoon with session 2: “State of Exception: Historical Parallels”, chaired by Saila Heinikoski. The goal of this session was to analyze some of the history of the state of exception, by drawing parallels between different situations, namely the way in which it was conceived of in some constituencies (e.g. Poland) while absent in others, and its past and current uses, including the possibility of having today a “democratic state of exception”. Two papers were presented: Karolina Baraniak (University of Wrocław) – The State of Emergency in Poland; and Hagen Schölzel (University of Erfurt) – A ‘Democratic State of Exception’: The Corona Virus Controversy in Germany (February to May 2020).
Following a coffee break, session 3, titled “State of Exception, Education and Democratic Participation” (chair: Gonçalo Marcelo) closed the afternoon of June 7. In this session several implications of the current state of exception tied to the covid-19 pandemic were discussed, including the challenges to democracy (against the backdrop of an epistocratic turn), the crisis of cosmopolitanism and a critical take on the current state of education, with three papers being presented: Jón Ólafsson (University of Iceland) – Political Agency, Participation and Exception; Marin Beroš (Institute of Social Sciences ‘Ivo Pilar’) – Sequestered Cosmopolitanism: An Exception or a New Paradigm?; Iraklis Ioannidis (Dartford Grammar School) – Pedagogy Excepted: The Tragedy of Modern Education.
The workshop reconvened in the morning of 8 June with session 4, “Emergency Rule and Constitutional Debates”, chaired by Hanna-Mari Kivistö. The focus of this session was to analyze the legal background of the measures that were taken in the context of the covid-19 pandemic in different European countries, in a comparative perspective, sorting out the different legal frameworks and assessing the responses given in these countries. Two papers were presented: José María Rosales (University of Málaga) – Constitutionalism and Emergency Rule: Comparing Germany’s and Spain’s Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic; and João Cruz Ribeiro (CEPS, University of Minho) – Where did the Guardians go? The Judgment Delivered by the Portuguese Supreme Court on 10 September 2020.
Following a coffee break, the last session of the workshop was session 5, “Democracy, State of Exception and Rights”, chaired by Alexandre Franco de Sá. In this session the goal was to assess the way in which the state of exception has an impact on rights, and how it is in tension with democracy, namely in the way in which it can further the illiberal tendencies of some democracies. Two papers were delivered in this session: Vasil Gluchman (University of Prešov) – Hungarian (Magyar) ‘Illiberal’ National Liberalism of the 19th Century; and Saila Heinikoski (Finnish Institute of International Affairs) and Tatu Hyttinen (University of Turku) – State of Exception and Border Control in the North: Nordic Restrictions to Free Movement during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The workshop concluded with a brief discussion on the following final months of the work of Working Group 3: Concepts and RECAST itself, as the Action is nearing its end and focusing on new deliverables. In that context, a few indications on what is to follow were given, namely some initial guidelines for the production of full versions of the papers which are to be selected for inclusion in a collective publication (journal issue or edited book) to be pitched to a journal or editor soon. This result of the workshop will have both conveners as well as RECAST’s chair as co-editors.
(Please note this report complements the programme.)
Gonçalo Marcelo (University of Coimbra / Católica Porto Business School)
Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä)