Wroclaw 2012 — Course Descriptions

Democracy & Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland
July 9-25, 2012


Elzbieta Matynia – The New School for Social Research, Sociology and Liberal Studies

This course will examine the politics of public memory which have become particularly tense at a time in which social and political systems are being dismantled and reconfigured, ethnic and cultural identity is emerging as a powerful source of conflict, and nation-states are challenged by new global arrangements. The concepts of nation, identity, and globalization will inform our examination of emblematic locations, among them the city of Wroclaw itself, with its multilayered Czech, Austrian, German and Polish pasts. We will discuss the relationship between history and memory, space and time, globalization and memorialization – as well as ways of dealing with crimes of the past in the processes of transformation from authoritarian to democratic order. While paying attention to representational strategies designed to elicit the “meaning” of memory sites, whether in public art, historic districts, or through spontaneous public gatherings we will discuss memory as a wound, as an erosion, and try to grasp the social meaning of good, memory. Finally, we will ask how to deal with the painful conditioning of memory in societies that are trying to build a new, better, and more just present. And how does one represent a volatile, multifarious and sometimes discredited past in a way that will enrich and amplify its interpretive possibilities rather than diminish them?


Andreas Kalyvas – The New School for Social Research, Politics

Whether defined in legal and political terms, as an ethical ideal and a vision of justice, or as a discourse on social belonging that transcends the national, shapes new transnational identities, and challenges legal understandings of citizenship, cosmopolitanism, with the advent of globalization, has re-entered philosophical, social, and political discourse as an alternative paradigm to the nation-state and bounded territorial communities. In a progressively integrated international context, cosmopolitanism seeks to re-imagine the world as a universal polity and a place that could constitute a home for all. This seminar will examine the classical foundations of cosmopolitan thought in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and trace its modern reappearance in Western Enlightenment, engage in close examination of its relation to nationalism, democracy, liberalism, law, feminism, migration, citizenship, capitalism and neo-liberalism, and empire, and consider some of its most vocal critics. Questions pertaining to the relationship between universalism and particularism, pluralism and difference, inclusion and exclusion, war and peace, and civic life and individual human rights will be central to the seminar’s discussions.


Robin Wagner-Pacifici – The New School for Social Research, Sociology

Social life is framed (and re-directed) increasingly not just by institutions and processes but by events. Recent theorizing of events in philosophy, history, anthropology, political theory, and sociology discuss their qualities of rupture, surprise, and incomprehension, the way events elude the present, act as turning points, require recognition by subjects, and prompt the appearance, focusing on reconstitution of individual subjects themselves. Indeed events are shape-shifters, now appearing as letters and treaties, now paintings and maps, now political constitutions, now handshakes etc. In this course we will rethink and reconceptualize ‘event’, its deployment of performatives, its actors and publics as a key political and sociological category that illuminates the understanding of both our present and our future. The readings will include Alain Badiou, William Sewell, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Reinhart Koselleck and others.


Jeffrey Goldfarb – The New School for Social Research, Sociology

From Romania to Bahrain, from Moscow to New York, globally, social movements are challenging the powers. The causes of the movements are quite complex and different. The challenges they face and the problems they wish to address are diverse. Yet, they appear to have much in common. In this seminar, we will explore this commonality by studying the specifics, embarking on a comparative historical, theoretically informed investigation. We will draw upon social movement theory, especially the work of Alain Touraine and Alberto Melucci on new social movements, extending their inquiries to an investigation of recent global developments.

2011-2 will be compared with 1968 and 1989. The seminar will proceed with a working hypothesis. While traditional social movements were primarily about resources and interest, and the new social movements, of the late 20th century were more centered on questions of identity, as Touraine and Melucci investigated, the social movements of our most recent past and of the present day are primarily about addressing perceived injustices through the constitution of autonomous publics. The constitution of free public space as the means to the end of global protests will be at the center of our investigations, using the perspectives of Habermas, Arendt, and Dewey, as well as the New School sociologists, Ikegami, Matynia and Goldfarb.


Ann Snitow ‘ Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Literature and Gender Studies

An intensive two-evening workshop that will address the question of the politics of gender in the countries undergoing systemic transformation. Links will be made to discussions of the new social movements such as Occupy Wall Street and of the event, shaped by political activism. (* Please note that this is a non-credit workshop)