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CFP: Studies in Social and Political Thought Annual Conference, “Extremes and Extremism”

March 18, 2014

Studies in Social and Political Thought Annual Conference June 5th 2014. University of Sussex.


Theme: Extremes and Extremism 


Keynote Speaker: Prof. Andrew Bowie


Call for Papers.


Extremes and Extremism of many different forms have become central questions of social and political thought in the past few years. Often a way to discredit an opponent or social movement, to be in the extreme has carried with it many loaded connotations. The rise of both the far right and far left have challenged the liberal consensus of political pragmatism. Taken together with the ‘war on terror’ and the perceived necessity of austerity, governments have sought ever more extreme measures. The recent NSA and GCHQ revelations demonstrate the lengths governments are willing to go in the name of national security. Austerity legislation in many countries has been seen as an attack on the most vulnerable. The reactions to these measures, in the wake of the financial crisis, have included mass protest, political gains for parties on the margins and a huge increase in state sponsored violence.


To say that we live in times of extremity appears to be a way of shifting meaning and understanding into pre-existing intellectual discourse. To for example label the Assad regime in Syria as extreme does not aid greater understanding but perhaps merely pushes discourse into ideology. To counter terrorist organisations by describing them as forms of extremism does not illuminate but rather makes opaque the reasons behind such organisations.


Extremes and extremism cannot only be seen in terms of the obviously political; philosophically the idea of the extreme is well documented and can be seen in writes as diverse as the Stoics, Nietzsche and Marxism. It could also be argued that economic theories such as Hayek could be understood in extreme terms.


We are therefore seeking papers of around 20 minutes that will engage theoretically and practically with central concepts of extremes and extremism, and their relationship with the social, economic, or political manifestations. We will also accept papers that do not deal exclusively with the main topic of the conference but are engaged with issues in the general area of social and political thought.


Possible approaches include, but are not limited to:


Liberalism and Political Theory, Political Parties, Contract Theory, Recognition Theory, Nietzsche, Marxism, Theories of Biopolitics, Instrumental Reason, Critical Theory, Post-Colonialism, Discourse and Democratic Theory, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Power and Resistance, Hegemony, Sovereignty, Revolution and Legitimacy.


Please send abstracts of up to 350 words to Alex Elliott at, by 20/04/14. Successful applicants will be notified early May 2014.

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