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Communities and the Individual: Beyond the Liberal-Communitarian Divide
May 26th-29th, 2020 | and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Despite the rise of individualism and human rights in the aftermath of World War II, communitarian approaches to politics continue to challenge liberal assumptions. Subnational groups and communities challenge this perspective and bring to surface the tensions of the democratic project. They may endorse a partial and identitarian project that clashes with the values of other groups, which can undermine democratic cohesion.
The debate generally turns around the oppositions of communitarianism and liberalism, collective rights and individual rights, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, tradition and modernity. Venice Seminars 2020 aim to concentrate the discussion on the very notion and nature of community, asking to what extent the dichotomy between community and individuals is irreconcilable and what the repercussions on the democratic process are.
In this context, the Seminars are going to analyze if communities are given or constructed and examine the role language, recognition and alterity have for the shape of communities. The Seminars will address issues concerning global intellectual history and study how modern nation states have engaged with issues of difference and integration, including the themes of subnational identities and linguistic, ethnic and religious minorities in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Radical religious-political ideologies in Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions will also be taken into account, with regard to their potential direct challenge to basic personal freedoms and the recognition of religious identities.
A special emphasis will be put on the transcultural construction of communities and their translingual practices. Transculturalism, with respect to the simple multiculturalism, tends not to solidify difference, but acknowledges cultural fluidity, hybridity, cosmopolitanism, and métissage. At the center of the analysis will be the concept of identity arising from transculturalism. Ulimately, it may be necessary to go beyond the liberal-communitarian divide in order to reconcile the valuable insights that may be rescued from both positions.