Apr 16 2017

Futures of Political Theology: Nomos, Demos, Pseudos

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An International Symposium at Kingston University

Keynote speaker: Elettra Stimilli (University of Rome La Sapienza)

Upon the occasion of some strange or deformed birth, it shall not be decided by Aristotle, or the philosophers, whether the same be a man or no, but by the laws - Thomas Hobbes, The Elements of Law Natural and Politic.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? – W.B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’

What – strange, deformed, beastly – species of political order is struggling to be born today? To be sure, political praxis and theory has sought to narrate the history of the contemporary from the financial crash of 2008 to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 in many different and competing ways. In the early 21st century, we are said to be witnessing everything from the death of liberalism, globalization and internationalism to the birth of a new extreme populism, protectionism and isolationism – all presided over by a new kind of Demogorgon (people-monster).

Yet, what arguably makes our current crisis so difficult to name is that it is not merely a political crisis but a crisis of the political – of the particular triangulation between truth, authority and representation that has dominated politics since the early modern period. If we are experiencing a new set of constitutional crises in Europe, America and elsewhere – between executive, legislature and judiciary, between national and transnational sovereignty and more widely between representative and direct democracy – it is perhaps because they reflect a larger and more profound political dissensus about who or what – if anyone – has the authority to decide upon truth. In this sense, contemporary media controversies – ‘post-truth’, ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ – are merely a symptom of a much deeper political ontological pathology where nomos, demos and pseudos meet and clash.

This international symposium gather together a group of distinguished interdisciplinary scholars – including philosophers, political theorists, theologians and cultural critics – to explore not simply the future of political theology but the political theology of the future. What can the conceptual resources of political theology – the messianic, the apocalyptic, the eschatological and so on – contribute to a re-thinking of the future? How might political theology intervene in, and re-imagine, our contemporary crises of truth, authority, representation, economy, populism and so on? What might a political theology of the 21st century look like?

Elettra Stimilli is Senior Research Fellow of theoretical philosophy at the Department of Philosophy at Sapienza University of Rome. She is also editor-in-chief of the series “Filosofia e Politica”, published by Quodlibet (Macerata). She is author of numerous essays that focus on the relationship between politics and religion, with particular attention to contemporary thought. Among her publications are Debito e colpa (2015) and the only existing monograph on Jacob Taubes: Jacob Taubes. Sovranità e tempo messianico (2004). She also translated into Italian and edited many works of this author, in particular Jacob Taubes, Der Preis des Messianismus: Briefe von Jacob Taubes an Gershom Scholem und andere Materialen (2006). Her new book The Debt of the Living. Ascesis and Capitalism (2017) has just been published by SUNY Press.

Speakers: Ward Blanton (University of Kent); Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University); Antonio Cerella (Kingston University); Michael Dillon (Lancaster University); Howard Caygill (Kingston University); Dario Gentile (University of Rome 3); Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent); Tracy B. Strong (UCSD/University of Southampton); Richard Wilson (Kingston University)

9.00 am – 7.30 pm

2 June 2017

Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, John Galsworthy building, Room 003

For more information email: A.Cerella@kingston.ac.uk


Mar 3 2016

Roberto Esposito’s Two: A Roundtable

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A roundtable discussion of Roberto Esposito’s new book Two: The Machine of Political Theology and the Place of Thought at Lancaster University.

The debate on ‘political theology’ that ran throughout the twentieth century has reached its end, but the ultimate meaning of the notion continues to evade us. Despite all the attempts to resolve the issue, we still speak its language—we remain in its horizon.

The reason for this, says Roberto Esposito, lies in the fact that political theology is neither a concept nor an event; rather, it is the pivot around which the machine of Western civilization has revolved for more than 2,000 years. At its heart stands the juncture between universalism and exclusion, unity and separation: the tendency of the Two to make itself into One by subordinating one part to the domination of the other. All the philosophical and political categories that we use, starting with the Roman and Christian notion of ‘the person’, continue to reproduce this exclusionary dispositif.

To take our departure from political theology, then—the task of contemporary philosophy—we must radically revise our conceptual lexicon. Only when thought has been returned to its rightful “place”—connected to the human species as a whole rather than to individuals—will we be able to escape from the machine that has imprisoned our lives for far too long.

This roundtable brings Roberto Esposito together with scholars from political theory, philosophy and religious studies to discuss the machine of political theology and the place of thought.

Participants:

Roberto Esposito (Scuola Normale Superiore)

Agata Bielik-Robson (University of Nottingham)

Ward Blanton (University of Kent)

Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University)

Antonio Cerella (UCLAN)

Michael Dillon (Lancaster University)

2 pm Thursday, 19th May

Frankland Colloquium Room

Faraday Building

Lancaster University

This event is free and open to all. In order to reserve a place, please email Arthur Bradley at a.h.bradley@lancaster.ac.uk

 

 


Feb 6 2016

Roberto Esposito to give Northern Theory School Annual Public Lecture

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Rowman and Littlefield International Annual Public Lecture

‘The Dispositif of Person’

Roberto Esposito (Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy)

Roberto Esposito is Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Italy. Until 2013, he was Vice Director of the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, Full Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, and the coordinator of the doctoral programme in Philosophy. For five years, he was the only Italian member of the International Council of Scholars of the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. He is the author of many books including Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community (Stanford University Press, 2004), Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy (Minnesota University Press, 2008), Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life (Polity Press, 2011), Third Person: Politics of Life and Philosophy of the Impersonal (Polity Press, 2012), Living Thought: The Origins and Actuality of Italian Philosophy (Stanford University Press, 2012) and Two: The Machine of Political Theology and the Place of Thought (Fordham University Press, 2015).

4.30 pm, 19th May 2016

Frankland Lecture Theatre

Faraday Building

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Lancaster University

This event is free and open to all but places are strictly limited. Please contact Arthur Bradley to reserve a place: a.h.bradley@lancaster.ac.uk