13 May

The East/West Within

Austrian Jews under the Habsburg crown came to be perceived and to perceive themselves as sharply divided by an imaginary boundary between East and West. The presumption of a more traditional and insular Jewish communal life in Galicia, in particular, in contrast to the assimilated Judaism of cities like Prague and Vienna, resulted at times …
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06 May

What is Political Cruelty? 

“The important point for liberalism is not so much where the line is drawn,” Judith Shklar writes in a fascinating moment in her critique of cruelty, “as that it be drawn, and that it must under no circumstances be ignored or forgotten.” Where is this line? And who lives under its ambiguous constitutionality? Neither in her 1989 theses …
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29 Apr

The New Asian Geopolitics

In the last two decades, globalisation, rapid development and the rise of China and other emerging economies have moved the centre of gravity of the world politics and the economy to Asia. In this talk, Ambassador Menon will consider the longer term drivers of this phenomenon and where they might take the geopolitics of Asia …
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15 Apr

European Universities

Universities all around the globe nowadays find themselves in an almost schizophrenic situation: highly successful and growing on one hand, yet suffering from pressure and uncertainty on the other hand. The presentation will explain how this situation is caused by problems of accountability that universities face in the age of popular democracy. Secondly, it will …
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08 Apr

Vicious and Virtuous Circles in the Rural Economy of East European Borderlands (19th-20th Century)

The borderlands of Eastern Europe, that is the territories on the edges of the three empires Austro-Hungarian, Tsarist and Ottoman, remained predominantly rural in character well into the 20th century. As late as 1960 up to 40% of the population in the region still lived and worked in the countryside. The social history of the …
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03 Apr

Imaginaries of Democracy and Dissent

When Charles Taylor engaged in explorations of modern social imaginaries more than two decades ago, he could hardly have predicted how popular his inquiry would become among political and legal philosophers in recent years. Imaginaries precede theoretical knowledge and refer to the ways people imagine and share their social existence. As deeply entrenched modes of collective understanding, they evolve …
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01 Apr

Workers’ Experiences of Post-Soviet Deindustrialisation

As the socialist project went bankrupt with the break-up of the USSR, workers were left in an ideological vacuum. It was filled either by hope-filled dreams of  successful individual adaptation to the capitalist order, or by nostalgic sentiment towards the Soviet past as a means of critiquing the present, or (on the contrary) by blaming …
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28 Mar

The Architecture of Global Migration Politics

The new Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants are important documents of the global politics of migration. They are also valuable documents to understand the way migration is politically and intellectually constructed as a research and policy issue. In their multi-stakeholder and market-inspired approach, these documents identify the role of migration/migrants in global economy prioritizing …
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27 Mar

How Smart People Got Too Powerful and Why That Might be About to Change

There is one overarching explanation for current political discontents that is hiding in plain sight: cognitive ability—that hard to define ability that helps people to pass exams and then process information efficiently in their professional lives—has become the gold standard of human esteem. People with higher levels of cognitive ability—what one might call the cognitive …
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25 Mar

Messianism and Sociopolitical Revolution in Islam

This report of my work on progress follows a new theoretical approach to the sociology of revolution offered in Revolution: Structure and Meaning in History to appear next month with regard to the motivation to revolutionary action. This approach shifts the focus of analysis from the putatively general causes of revolutions to the specific motivation …
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