Upcoming SOAS Lecture and Workshop on Comparative Political Theory

Two events at SOAS this week, both celebrating the launch of a new MSc program in Comparative Political Thought:

Inaugural lecture: Brave New Horizons: Why Comparative Political Theory Now?

Professor Fred Dallmayr (University of Notre Dame)

Chair: Lord Bhikhu Parekh (University of Westminster)

Thursday 13 June 2013
18:00 – 20:00

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS Main Building

All welcome, no registration required. Organised by the Comparative Political Thought Research Group, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS University of London


SOAS University of London, 14 June 2013, room 116 (Main Building)


09.30-09.45                 Welcome

09.45 -10.15                Opening remarks

Prof. Michael Freeden (Oxford and Nottingham)

10.15-11.30                 Comparison across space

To what extent, if at all, should the West/non-West distinction be central to discussions in CPT? Should the field be interested in cosmological discontinuity rather than geographical difference? Does ‘religion’ provide a stable category of comparison? Recent debates invoke macro units of analysis/comparison such as ‘Chinese’, ‘Indian’, and ‘Islamic’ thought in contrast to the global spatial ontologies of global historians. Does CPT threaten to revive discredited Huntingtonian ontologies, albeit in more respectful registers?

Chair and discussant: Dr Rahul Rao (SOAS)

Speakers: Prof. Chris Goto-Jones (Leiden), Dr Farah Godrej (University of California-Riverside)

11.30-11.45                 Coffee

11.45-13.00                 Comparison across time

How do we understand ideas across time given the existence of particular and changing cultural contexts? Do the strategies we use to compare ideas within a particular historical context differ from those we use to compare ideas across historical contexts? How would one approach a comparison of ancient Indian and Renaissance Italian advice books to princes (Kautilya and Machiavelli)? How would one approach a comparison of concepts rooted in ancient Chinese texts with an account of broadly related concepts today?

Chair and discussant: Dr Carlo Bonura (SOAS)

Speakers: Dr Leigh Jenco (LSE), Dr Manjeet Ramgotra (SOAS)

13.00-14.00                 Lunch

14.00-15.15                 Comparison and subjectivity

If ‘subjectivity’ is historically contingent or embedded in discrete cultural traditions, how can two subjective standpoints be compared? Are concepts like justice or equality modified by subjective considerations and, if so, is there a limit to this process of modification (beyond which a common point of reference simply disappears)? How should scholars weigh the relative importance of ‘internal’ logics and ‘external’ evaluative frameworks in their approach to the comparison of ideas and value systems? 

Chair and discussant: Dr Matthew Nelson (SOAS)

Speakers: Prof. Salwa Ismail (SOAS), Prof. Cecile Laborde (UCL)

15.15-15.30                 Tea

15.30-16.45                 Comparison, texts and performance

Which sources should we focus on in the study of comparative political thought? Can collective practices and performances serve as instances of ‘thought’ (in addition to the writings of those who have dominated the field, e.g. Sayyid Qutb and Gandhi)? Which methods should we employ to reconstruct collective practices or performative and symbolic actions as ‘thought’? How might instances of thought-in-action be compared?

Chair and discussant: Prof. Stephen Chan (SOAS)

Speakers: Prof. Charles Tripp (SOAS), Dr Rochana Bajpai (SOAS)

16.45-17.30                 Concluding discussion

Organized by the SOAS Politics Comparative Political Thought research group:

Dr Rochana Bajpai, Dr Carlo Bonura, Dr Matt Nelson, Dr Manjeet Ramgotra, Dr Rahul Rao, Prof. Charles Tripp.

To register please email Rahul Rao rr18@soas.ac.uk

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