political theory workshop

The Political Theory Workshop Presents Luis Beltrán-Álvarez

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

“From Creolization of Theory to Praxis: Feminist and Community Organization’s Decolonial Empowerment in Puerto Rico”

Luis Beltrán-Álvarez, Political Science, UConn
with commentary by Dr. Gregory Doukas, Political Science, UConn
April 18, 2022 from 12:15–1:30pm, Oak 438 and Zoom

Luis J. Beltrán-Álvarez is from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras and then earned a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the same institution. He is now a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science in Political Theory and Comparative Politics at the University of Connecticut. His main research interests are political subjectivities, social movements, decolonial feminism, anticolonialism and decoloniality, anarchism, populism, philosophy of race/racism, and discourse theory.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute, Africana Studies, Anthropology, El Instituto, OVPR, Philosophy, POLS, and Sociology.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

The Political Theory Workshop Presents Natasha Behl

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

India’s Farmers’ Protest: An Inclusive Vision of Indian Democracy

Natasha Behl, Arizona State University
with commentary by San Lee, Political Science, UConn
March 21, 2022 from 12:15–1:30pm, Oak 408 and Zoom

India, the world’s largest democracy, has been experiencing a democratic decline. Since coming to power in 2014 and winning reelection in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have become increasingly illiberal and authoritarian. The rule of law has deteriorated, rights and liberties have been curtailed, and scholars and the media have been silenced. If electoral constraint, constitutional design, judicial independence, and a free press haven’t slowed India’s march toward illiberalism, what can? In November 2020, India’s farmers began a highly organized protest against the government. How has this protest protected Indian democracy from further degradation? Has it radically altered India’s political future? The farmers’ protest provides an alternative vision of democracy, one rooted in radical egalitarianism. Protesting farmers have actualized the spirit of dissent enshrined in the Indian constitution by holding the current government accountable to it.

Natasha Behl is associate professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU). Her book, Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India, was published with Oxford University Press and received the American Political Science Association’s 2021 Lee Ann Fujii Award for Innovation in the Interpretive Study of Political Violence. Her research has been published in the American Political Science Review, PS: Political Science and Politics, Feminist Formations, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. At ASU, she was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award, the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, ASU’s Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award and Social Impact Award. She has written for The Washington Post and Economic & Political Weekly and given a TEDx Talk

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute, Africana Studies, Anthropology, El Instituto, OVPR, Philosophy, POLS, and Sociology.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

POSTPONED: The Political Theory Workshop Presents Anna Terwiel

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Beyond the Prison: The Politics of Abolition

Anna Terwiel, Political Science, Trinity College
with commentary by Benjamin Stumpf, Political Science, UConn
February 25, 2022 April 1, 2022 from 12:15–1:30pm, Oak 408 and by Zoom

Many contemporary abolitionists argue that “carceral feminists” have contributed to mass incarceration by supporting criminal justice approaches to end sexual and gender violence. Instead of the criminal justice system, these “abolition feminists” advocate grassroots transformative justice initiatives that work outside of state institutions and the law. Community justice initiatives often showcase powerful assertions of feminist political agency, as Terweil shows through a close examination of Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA). However, she argues that abolition feminists’ anti-statism ultimately limits their ability to realize widespread radical change. She challenges this anti-statism by showing, first, that in other contexts, prominent abolitionists seek to seize state capacities and resources. Such efforts are important, Terweil suggests, not only to address the root causes of harm but also to counter right-wing militias and other forms of neoliberal and conservative anti-statism. She concludes by suggesting that some legal-institutional proposals of earlier European abolitionist scholar-activists, who oppose prisons and criminal law but see a role for the state in facilitating restorative justice processes, could productively inform US abolitionism.

Anna Terwiel is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Trinity College. Her research engages political theory, feminist theory, critical carceral studies, and medical humanities. She is currently completing a book project, The Challenge of Prison Abolition, which aims to clarify abolitionism’s goals and strengthen its outcomes by carefully engaging with its internal tensions and debates. Her articles have been published in Political Theory, New Political Science, Theory & Event, and Social Philosophy Today.

Benjamin Stumpf is a doctoral student in political theory at UConn.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

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The Political Theory Workshop Presents Dabney Waring

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Transnational Identity and Historical Development

Dabney Waring, Political Science, UConn
with commentary by Justin Theodra, Political Science, UConn
November 5, 2021 from 3:00-4:30p.m. EST, VIRTUAL

The structure-agency debate has long been central to social theory and remains a site of controversy. This paper makes two main interventions in this debate. First, expanding the critical realist approach to social ontology, it argues that group identities can be fruitfully theorized as structures – “collectivities” – that generate causal effects. Collectivities, as socio-symbolic structures, cut across and interact with states and societies, socio-material structures with their own causal effects. This formulation offers a richer account of global social space, displacing the domestic/international distinction that defines traditional statist frameworks of International Relations as well as many sociological and constructivist approaches. Second, it argues that, even with this expansion, there remains a theoretical void within social ontology, an intermediary gap between the natural/physiological and social structures that overdetermine individuals from “below” and “above.” Although it has long been rejected, ignored, or theoretically bracketed in a liberal conception of the subject, it argues that social theorists need a better account of the nexus that links natural and social structures, i.e., the psyche, and its general causal significance.

Dabney Waring is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. His research interests include IR theory, social and political theory, critical realism, and transcendental materialism.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

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The Political Theory Workshop Presents Ainsley LeSure

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Thoughts on the World, the Black, and the Political

Ainsley LeSure, Africana Studies,Brown University
with commentary by Gregory Doukas, Political Science, UConn
October 18th from 12:15-1:30p.m. EST, Oak 408

If the political, according to Afro-pessimists and other luminaries in black studies, has been, is currently, and likely will always be militated against black being, what would it take to recoup an account of the political that critically engages this literature’s conceptualization of humanity, blackness, the state, and civil society to recoup an account of the political that is not tethered to the project of antiblackness and white supremacy?

Ainsley LeSure is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies. Her current book project, tentatively titled, Locating Racism in the World: Toward an Anti-Racist Reality, reconceptualizes racism in the post-Civil Rights era by calling for a shift away from framing post-Civil Rights racism as either unconscious or institutional and toward a worldly account of racism that offers a better conception of the relationship between its individual and collective determinants.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

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The Political Theory Workshop Presents Inés Valdez

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Labor, Nature, and Empire: Alienation and the (Post)Colonial Political Rift

Inés Valdez, Political Science and Latina/o Studies, Ohio State University,
with commentary by Taylor Tate, Philosophy, UConn
September 13th from 12:15-1:30p.m. EST on Zoom

The chapter brings together Marx’s and Luxemburg’s accounts of capital’s voraciousness for natural resources and exploitable labor with an ecological reading of W. E. B. Du Bois’s writings on empire. Valdez argues that that racism maps onto a nature/technology divide which positions technologically advanced societies as uniquely able to rule and dictate the fates of non-white peoples. This stance devalues nature and separates these societies from it and from the racialized subjects who labor the earth’s surface and its insides, whose products are appropriated by western collectives, depleting non-western ecosystems. The viability of such a structure depends on coerced or coopted political regimes of poor countries who detach themselves from their own needs to cater to western interests, i.e., a political rift that maps into the ecological rift created by global capitalism.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

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The Political Theory Workshop Announces 2021–22 Speakers

The Political Theory Workshop has six exciting speakers planned for this academic year, discussing topics from citizenship to labor to decolonial movements. See below for details. If you have questions, contact the group’s organizer, Jane Gordon.

For now, only the first session will be virtual, but they will make accommodations to later events as necessary.

Monday, September 13th from 12:15-1:30p.m. [on Zoom]
“Labor, Nature, and Empire: Alienation and the (Post)Colonial Political Rift”
Inés Valdez, Political Science and Latina/o Studies, Ohio State University

Monday, October 18th, 12:15-1:30p.m., Oak 438
“Thoughts on the World, the Black and the Political,”
Ainsley LeSure, Africana Studies, Brown University

Friday, November 5th, 3:00-4:30p.m., Oak 438
“Transnational Identity and Historical Development”
Dabney Waring, Political Science, UConn

Friday, February 25th, 12:15-1:30, Oak 438
“Beyond the Prison: The Politics of Abolition”
Anna Terwiel, Political Science, Trinity College,

Monday, March 21st, 12:15-1:30p.m., Oak 438
“Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India”
Natasha Behl, Political Science, Arizona State University

Monday, April 18th, 12:15-1:30p.m., Oak 438
“From Creolization of Theory to Praxis: Feminist and Community Organization’s decolonial empowerment in Puerto Rico”
Luis Beltrán Álvarez, Political Science, UConn

The Political Theory Workshop Presents: Brooks Kirchgassner

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Enemies of the State: The Black Panther Party’s Phenomenological Approach to Solidarity

Brooks Kirchgassner, Ph.D. Student, Political Science, UConn
with commentary by Benjamin Stumpf, Ph.D. Student, Political Science, UConn
April 5th, 2021, 12:15–1:30pm on Zoom

What are the conditions of possibility in which those who are raced white could create and augment a political alliance based on practices of solidarity with individuals who are raced as non-white? What about individuals who identify as racially mixed, or multi-racial with people who identify as mono-racial? This paper argues that a phenomenological approach is best suited to understanding the function of race in the Black Panther Party’s organizing efforts in creating The Rainbow Coalition in Chicago, Illinois, the implications and conclusions of which could potentially be applied to efforts of interracial solidarities in other contexts in the U.S. (or other settler-colonial societies).

As a direct challenge to liberal, state-based solutions to racist institutions, Kirchgassner argues that the Panthers’ strategy was a phenomenological, and radical, one in that they did not view racial identity as innate or purely external to one’s self (Monahan 2011). Instead, the Panthers’ goal in building a Rainbow Coalition was to lay the foundations of a political solidarity that would not only have Black, white, Latinx, and Indigenous peoples work together to achieve specific goals, but transform how these individuals and groups saw themselves as political agents in creating de-centered community spaces to respond to the needs that the state (local and federal) ignored. With white participants, this involved a conscious refusal to participate in what Charles Mills calls the “civic and political responsibilities” of white members of the racial contract (1997, 14), in particular the “structured blindness and opacities” of the white racial order.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

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The Political Theory Workshop Presents: Richard Dagger

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Republicanism and the Rule of Law

Richard Dagger, University of Richmond
with Dabney Waring, Ph.D. Student, Political Science, UConn, as discussant
March 5th, 2021, 12:15–1:30pm on Zoom

Richard Dagger is the E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Chair in the Liberal Arts at the University of Richmond, where he holds a joint appointment in Political Science and in the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law Program. Professor Dagger’s publications include numerous essays in political and legal philosophy, with special attention to political obligation, the justification of punishment, and republicanism. The first two interests are reflected in his Playing Fair: Political Obligation and the Problems of Punishment (Oxford University Press, 2018). The interest in republicanism is central to his Civic Virtues: Rights, Citizenship, and Republican Liberalism (Oxford University Press, 1997), which won the Elaine and David Spitz Prize of the Conference for the Study of Political Thought in 1999. He is also co-author of a textbook, Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal (Routledge, 11th edition), and co-editor of a companion book of readings, Ideals and Ideologies: A Reader (Routledge, 11th edition).

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

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The Political Theory Workshop Presents: Arash Davari

THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS

Bandung against Bandung: Muslim Democracy as Realistic Utopia

Arash Davari, Politics, Whitman College
with commentary by Justin Theodra, Political Science, UConn
February 12th, 12:20–2:00p.m. via Zoom

At the end of the Cold War, Iranian “religious intellectuals” increasingly concerned with democratic politics and disillusioned with the revolutionary postures of an Islamic Republic rejected the third worldism long associated with the Asian-Africa Conference held in Bandung in 1955. Ali Shariati’s legacy played a prominent role in these debates. Many dismissed utopian aspirations altogether, announcing their differences with him. Others cordoned off the parts of Shariati’s oeuvre that invoked Bandung from the essence of his ideas, claiming the former expressed support for statist authoritarianism. This article draws on recent scholarship to reassesses Shariati’s utopian political theory. It shows how Shariati’s “middle doctrine” [maktab-i vāseteh] bears affinities with Plato’s arguments in favor of democracy in the Republic. The consequent utopian vision predicates democracy and realism on Islam, not against it, providing for a “Bandung spirit” equipped to answer the challenges posed by today’s positivist critics.

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.

Questions? Email jane.gordon@uconn.edu

Download the poster.