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Political Concepts at Brown:
A Critical Lexicon in the Making

November 15-16, 2013
Pembroke Hall 305
172 Meeting Street

This conference will introduce to the Brown community – and invite Brown's scholars into - a project launched three years ago in New York, with colleagues from the New School, Columbia, New York University, as well as Wits University (Johannesburg) and the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University.

The project's goal is to serve as a platform for revising, inventing, and experimenting with concepts while exploring the political dimension of their use and dissemination. The project's 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. In the past, some of the participants revised key political concepts while others showed the political work done by terms and common nouns that are not usually considered "political."

Scholars from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are invited to re-think and re-articulate concepts they are working with or to construct new ones that seem necessary for their work. They are asked not to be content with a concept's history or actual usage but also consider the way that concept works for them, beyond or even against what it actually does in prevalent discourse, to the point of creating a new concept or taking another out of circulation.

Conference schedule

The photo gallery for this event

Speakers and Topics:


Ariella Azoulay
Comparative Literature/Modern Culture and Media
Brown University
Human Rights




Étienne Balibar
Comparative Literature/Departments of French and Italian
University of California/Irvine



Nathaniel Berman
Cogut Center for the Humanities
Brown University




Eduardo Cadava
Princeton University





Federico Finchelstein
The New School




Bonnie Honig
Modern Culture and Media
Brown University





Andreas Kalyvas
Political Science
The New School





A. Kiarina Kordela
German Studies
Macalester College






Jacques Lezra
Comparative Literature
New York University




Kevin McLaughlin
Brown University
Raison d'État




Elias Muhanna
Comparative Literature
Brown University





Adi Ophir
Cogut Center for the Humanities
Brown University
Minerva Humanities Center
University of Tel Aviv
Concept (ii)





Linda Quiquivix
Cogut Center for the Humanities
Brown University





Ellen Rooney
Modern Culture and Media
Brown University