Call for Papers

From Meydan Tahrir to Wisconsin: Rethinking Revolution, Democracy and Citizenship
An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference

Hosted by the Political Theory Graduate Students at Department of Government, Cornell University


April 27-28, 2012

From revolutionary awakenings in the Arab world to protests against austerity measures in Europe and assaults on labor rights in Wisconsin, a “specter is haunting the world” – the specter of democracy and equality. This conference aims to bring together a diverse group of graduate students to discuss the significance of these revolutionary mobilizations and moments of solidarity for political  thought. How do unfolding events challenge us to reconsider political concepts such as democracy, revolution, and citizenship?  In light of these historical developments, papers might address political possibilities and anxieties unleashed by the current revolutionary enthusiasm: To what extent are these demands for economic equality, labor rights, and democracy compatible with contemporary hegemony of (neo)liberalism? Does the Tea Party as a conservative social movement challenge our ideas regarding the content of democratic politics? Is it the attempts to weaken union rights in Wisconsin that represent an undermining of democratic citizenship, or the recall efforts that have followed them? When are “rebels/protestors” justified in claiming popular authority and taking up “constituent power?  How should we interpret the nationalist discourse and imagery evoked in revolutions?;  What is at stake in the tendency to present the Egyptian revolution as a radical break from the past, as a distinctively “secular moment”? What do transnational connections between the protestors in Tahrir Square and the public workers of Wisconsin say about revolutionary enthusiasm from afar, about democracy’s ‘witness’, or about projection of democratic imagery and metaphor?

We seek papers that will engage a wide range of disciplines, including politics, sociology, developmental sociology, history, anthropology, and near eastern studies.