The Future of Political Community: Beyond Universalism and Particularism; 10.-11.12., Helsinki

The Future of Political Community: Beyond Universalism and Particularism

Conference organized by the Network for European Studies project “Rethinking Cultural Diversity in Europe”

Date: 10-11 December 2010

Place: University of Helsinki

As a result of the contemporary cultural diversification of societies, the traditional European affirmation of universalism, both religious and secular, has become increasingly contested as hegemonic or imperialist. However, this contestation of universalism from particularistic or multicultural standpoints does not take into account that European universalism emerged historically as a solution to the problems of exclusion and violence posed precisely by the emergence of multicultural societies. The abandonment of universalism therefore does little more than reactivate and intensify these problems. The alternative to such a scenario consists in going beyond the very opposition between universalism and particularism and rethinking political community as neither exclusionary nor hegemonic. What is the real relationship between universal principles and particular identities? Is it possible to think of a universal political community? Is such a community realizable? Does not the very being of beings entail exclusion? What kind of concept of political community would be able to overcome this eternal conflict of identities? The aim of this conference is to address these questions both in genealogical inquiries into the history of political community and philosophical investigations of alternative perspectives on this problem.


Fri Dec 10
Place: Network for European Studies, University of Helsinki (address: Arkadiankatu 7)

13.15 Opening remarks

13.30 Keynote talk:
Veronique Pin-Fat: “In Defence of Universality.”

15.00 Break

15.15 Panel 1:
Sergei Prozorov: “Politics of the Void: Rethinking the World Community.”
Susanna Lindberg: “Lacking a Future World.”
Ari Hirvonen: “Europe: A Universal Community?"

16.45 Break

17.00 Panel 2:
Mika Ojakangas: “A Political Community of Whosoever.”
Lauri Siisiäinen: “Deliberation and Listening to the Other: the Past and Future of Political Community.”
Markku Koivusalo: “Michel Foucault and the Singular Political Experience of the Universal Man.”


Sat Dec 11
Place: University Main Building, University of Helsinki, seminar room XIII (address: Unioninkatu 34)

09.15 Keynote talk:
Louiza Odysseos: “Community, Tradition and Critical Belonging in Heidegger’s early
Thought: Inspiration from an unlikely Source?”

10.45 Panel 3:
Jussi Backman: “The Dangers and Possibilities of a Politics of Singularity: Heidegger and Arendt.”
Timo Miettinen: “Universalism as an Infinite Task.”
Sofia Anna Näsström: “Justifying Who ‘We, the People’ Are.”

12.15 Lunch

13.15 Round table discussion

Keynote speakers:

Veronique Pin-Fat is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Manchester, UK. She is the author of Universality, Ethics and International Relations (London: Routledge, 2009), the co-editor of Sovereign Lives: Power in an Era of Globalisation (Routledge, 2004) and Sovereignty and Subjectivity (Lynne Rienner, 1999), and the author of numerous articles on political philosophy and international relations.

Louiza Odysseos is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex, UK. She is the author of The Subject of Coexistence: Otherness in International Relations (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), the co-editor of The International Political Thought of Carl Schmitt (London: Routledge, 2007) and Gendering the International (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002) and the author of numerous articles on political philosophy and international relations.