Special Events

Political Concepts

Friday, Jerome Greene Hall (Law School), Jerome Greene Annex

The Political Concepts conference returns to the Columbia University. The project is guided by one formal principle--the posing of a Socratic question "what is x?"--and by one theatrical principle--the concepts defined should be relevant to political thought and, more broadly, to thinking about the political.

Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon is a multidisciplinary, web-based journal that seeks to be a forum for engaged scholarship. Each lexical entry will focus on a single concept with the express intention of resituating it in the field of political discourse by addressing what has remained unquestioned or unthought in that concept. Each entry will serve as a short defining essay for a concept. Through their argumentative strategies and employment of the concept in question, entries will aim to reconfigure a concept, rather than take for granted the generally accepted definitions of that concept or the conclusions that follow from them.

Political Concepts does not predetermine what does or does not count as a political concept. Our aim is to expand the scope of what demands political accounting, and for this reason we welcome essays that fashion new political concepts or demonstrate how concepts deserve to be taken as politically significant. It is our view that “politics” refers to the multiplicity of forces, structures, problems, and orientations that shape our collective life. Politics enters the frame wherever our lives together are staked and wherever collective action could make a difference to the outcome. As no discipline possesses an hegemony over this critical space, we welcome submissions from all fields of study.

We consider Political Concepts to be “a critical lexicon” because each contribution resituates a particular aspect of political meaning, thereby opening pathways for another future—one that is not already determined and ill-fated. The term “critical” in our title is also meant quite literally: Political Concepts is a forum for conversation and constructive debate rather than the construction of an encyclopedic ideal.