Istanbul Seminars 2012
Bilgi University

Istanbul Seminars May 19-24, 2012 – Philosophers bridge the Bosphorus

“The promise of democracy in troubled times” faces several challenges that are notably related to altered material conditions: Western democracies have to find new answers in the face of a severe economic and financial crises and an ageing population. Arab countries invest all their hopes in democracy in order to confront poverty and inequality as well as an unprecedented youth bulge.

Which are the methods and limits of democratic participation and political deliberation in economics? Does the Arab Spring lead to more rights for women and citizens in the Arab world? How do claims to justice engage new forms of political responsibility, political judgment and leadership?

Venue: Conference hall at Bilgi Santralistanbul: E1-301

Saturday, May 19,
10.00 am – 4.15pm

Introductions: Giancarlo Bosetti and Asaf Savas Akat

Timur Kuran: Religious Obstacles to Democratization in the Middle East: Past and Present
Seyla Benhabib:
Democracy Building and Transnational Sites: Reconfiguring Political Geographies
Chair: Ferda Keskin

Populism and Technocracy: Twin Dangers for Democracy

With Albena Azmanova, Marina Calloni, Timur Kuran, Jim Sleeper, Asaf Savas Akat


Sunday, May 20, 11.30 am – 5.30 pm

Micheline Ishay, Claus Offe: Arab Seasons: Historical Analogies, Current Actors and Prospects for Democratic
Katajun Amirpur:
‚We are Half of Iran’s Population’ – Women and The Green Movement Transitions
Chair: Nina zu Fürstenberg

Message from His Excellency Mohammed Khatami: Overcoming Postcolonialism: from the Civilizational Dispute to the Renewal of Dialogue
With Giuliano Amato, Alessandro Ferrara, Ali Khoshroo, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Roberto Toscano, Giancarlo Bosetti


Monday, May 21, 10 am – 4.00 pm

Andrew Arato: The Return of Reform and Revolution, and the Problem of Legitimacy
Jeffrey Alexander:
Chair: Ayşen Candaş

Asma Barlas: Uncrossed Bridges: Islam, Feminism, and Secular Democracy

A Big Change in Progress in the Mediterranean Region: A New Season Between Hopes and Risks

With Jeffrey Alexander, Francesca Corrao, Nilüfer Göle, Mohsen Marzouk, Ulises Mejias, Roberto Toscano


Tuesday, May 22, 10 am – 3.30 pm

Massimo Campanini: A New Way for Democracy from an Islamic Perspective
Mehmet Paçaci:
Democratic Values and the Qur’an as a Source of Islam
Chair: Pınar Uyan

Jean Cohen: Defending Constitutionalized Anti-Establishment and Political Secularism: How to Square the Circle of Separation, Religious Freedom and (Reflexive) Regulation
Chair: David Rasmussen

Are Democracies Still Sovereign? The Challenge of Transnational Institutions

With Seyla Benhabib, Craig Calhoun, Fuat Keyman, David Rasmussen, Joseph La Palombara


Wednesday, May 23 10 am – 4.30 pm

Craig Calhoun: Cosmopolitanism and Belonging
Avishai Margalit:
The Arab Spring and the Israeli Spring: the Cry for Social Justice.
Chair: Umut Özkırımlı

ROUNDTABLE (1) : Cosmopolitanism and the Challenge of Pluralism
İlay Romain Örs, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Volker Kaul, Fuat Keyman

ROUNDTABLE (2) 2.00 pm:
Postsecularism from Turkey to North Africa: Debating the Role of Religion in the New Course of Arab Democracy

With Massimo Campanini, Zaid Eyadat, Avishai Margalit, Nilüfer Göle, Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza

Closing with Remzi Sanver, Rector of Bilgi University


Thursday, May 24 10 am – 11.30 am

Open Discussion with Young Scholars and Proposals for Future Editions of the Istanbul Seminars

Students have an hour of Q and A with selected speakers at the end of every day’s Seminar.

This program might be subject to changes. Please consult our website for possible changes.

You can DOWNLOAD the detailed program on the top of this page



The Seminars take place at İstanbul Bilgi University
İstanbul, Turkey. Detailed info here and for students here

With the contribution of Italian Foreign Ministry



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