Convening 23 May 2022 Venice (Italy)
Venice Seminars 2022 – Between State and Civil Society:
Who Protects Individual Liberties and Human Dignity?

An initative of Reset DOC with Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

Venice Summer School – May 23-28, 2022 // Applications now closed

Venice Seminars – May 26-28, 2022 // Sign up here to attend


Between State and Civil Society: Who Protects Individual Liberties and Human Dignity?

The need to protect the most vulnerable in society against the ravages of Covid-19, climate change, financial downturn as well as, most recently, war signals the powerful return of the state. After decades of globalization and the ascendancy of markets, multinationals and civil society, national governments have reemerged as critical actors. The state is seen as the last recourse against extreme income inequality and against challenges to individual freedoms emanating from cultural-religious realms. The recent collapse of the Afghan government left millions without institutional protection for such liberties, while Western nations disagree upon the best ways to do so — some downplay headscarves and minarets, for example, while others embrace them. Liberal societies are ambivalent about the precise role of the state in society.

In the view of John Locke and Isaiah Berlin, the state is there to protect the negative freedom of individuals, so that each can lead their life according to their own wishes and ideas – whatever those are – without the interference of others. Another vision of liberal theory is more attuned to the social welfare of all citizens.

The Venice Seminars will focus upon the space between state and society – a free and ample public sphere – which is an indispensable ingredient of civil liberties. But these need protection not only from state authority. Other forms of domination in civil society are also at the root of social inequities in society, be they related to oppressive traditions, patriarchal legacies, sexism, racism, classism, and ethnic hatred but also to formal caste systems such as that in India and informal ones like that of the United States. Many concerned liberals prefer the notion of positive freedom – in the republican tradition – according to which the state plays a central role in guaranteeing and protecting individual autonomy and dignity. In this perspective, the state’s guarantee of the rule of law protects against domination in civil society and liberates civil life from oppressive traditions and inequalities so as to bring about actual, real individual freedom.

The 2022 Venice Seminars will confront these debates about the distinct roles of the state and civil society in the protection of individual liberties in comparative perspective.

The international symposium will take place from the 26th to the 28th of May, with high-level academics, political scientists, and journalists. Participants will present innovative and original papers in round tables and panel discussions, to create a comparative debate around the conference topics. The Venice Seminars have a long history in curating a conference able to bring together different facets of an analytic structure, not only representing varying points of view but also the perspectives of different cultures and world religions. The final outcome of the symposium is a rich study on the topic published yearly in a special edition of Philosophy and Social Criticism, dedicated to the Venice Seminars, by Springer Publishing. 


2022 Speakers and Faculty *

Giuliano Amato, Lisa Anderson, Stefano Beggiora, Akeel Bilgrami, Giancarlo Bosetti, Daniele Brombal, Marina Calloni, Silvio Cristiano, Alessandro Ferrara, Beatrice Gallelli, Seán Golden, Amel Grami, Mona Harb, Volker Kaul, Jonathan Laurence, Tiziana Lippiello, Stephen Macedo, Walter Mignolo, Subrata Mitra, Toshio Miyake, Philip Pettit, Maria Cristina Paciello, Runya Qiaoan, David Rasmussen, Marcella Simoni, Nandini Sundar, Yael Tamir, Francesca Tarocco, Richard Quang-Anh Tran, Ananya Vajpeyi.


The Venice Seminars are free and open to all.

–> To sign up for to the Seminars, please click here

–> To learn more on the Summer School, please click here.





Thursday, 26 May



9.15 AM – 9.30 AM

Welcome and Introduction

Tiziana Lippiello | Rector of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

Giancarlo Bosetti | Chairman Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations


9.30 AM – 11.00 AM

Philip Pettit [online]: Liberty, Security and the State

Akeel Bilgrami: Culture, The Commons, The Law, and Capital

Chair: Volker Kaul


11.15 AM – 12.00 PM

Ananya Vajpeyi: From Republic of India to Hindu Rashtra: From Welfare State to Biopolitical State, From Secular State to Majoritarian State

Chair: Marta Craveri




1.30 PM – 3.45 PM

Nandini Sundar: Vigilante Fascism: Turning Victims into Perpetrators

Marina Calloni: Civil Society, the State and the Struggle Against Gender-Based Violence: Towards a Comprehensive Approach

Amel Grami: Who Protects Individual Liberties and Human Dignity in Tunisia?

Chair: David Rasmussen [online]


Coffee Break


4.00 PM – 5.30 PM

Lisa Anderson [online]: The Role of State in the Middle East: Guarantor of Rights or Protector of Privileges?

Mona Harb: Governing a Pandemic in a “Failed” State: Territories of Sectarianism and Solidarity in Lebanon

Chair: Barbara De Poli



Friday, 27 May



9.30 AM – 11.00 AM

Subrata Mitra: “For Whom the Bell Tolls…?”: The State, Society and Human Dignity

Seán Golden: Roles and Rights in the Context of Just Governance and Just Social Mores

Chair: Jonathan Laurence


Coffee Break


11.15 AM – 12.45 PM

Runya Qiaoan: Civil Society in China: How Society Speaks to the State

Mengmeng Cui: From Resistance to Transformation – Transformative Pathways in the Era of Awakening to Resist Large Scale Infrastructure Development Led by the Belt and Road Initiative

Chair: Beatrice Gallelli




2.15 PM – 3.45 PM

Stephen Macedo: Rescuing Public Reason: Toward a New Constitution for Speech in the Age of Social Media

Giuliano Amato [online]: Defending Rights. Between Parliaments and Courts

Chair: Alessandro Ferrara


Coffee Break


4.00 PM – 5.45 PM

Yael Tamir: Slippery Slope Morality

Walter Mignolo: The Two Faces of the Secular Nation-State

Chair: Toshio Miyake


Saturday, 28 May



9.30 AM – 11.15 AM

ROUNDTABLE: Unpacking State-Society Relations in the Urban Space: What are the Limit(s) of Compromise?

Speakers: Silvio Cristiano, Mona Harb, Subrata Mitra, Runya Qiaoan

Chair: Beatrice Gallelli


Coffee Break


11.30 AM – 12.45 PM

Presentations of the Summer School Workshops*


12.45 PM

Closing Remarks

Giancarlo Bosetti





The Seminars will be held in the following locations: (kindly be aware of location and room changes).


Thursday the 26th of May (Seminars opening) morning: Aula Mario Baratto, Ca’ Foscari, 2nd Floor, Dorsoduro 3246, 30123 Venice

Thursday the 26th of May afternoon: Spazio Espositivo, Ca’ Foscari, 1st Floor, Dorsoduro 3246, 30123 Venice

Friday the 27th of May all day: Spazio Espositivo, Ca’ Foscari, 1st Floor, Dorsoduro 3246, 30123 Venice

Saturday the 28th of May: Auditorium Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro 3689, Campo Santa Margherita, 30123 Venice


Scientific Coordinators

Toshio Miyake (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice); Volker Kaul (Charles University, Prague/Reset DOC)

Summer School Scientific Committee

Karen Barkey (Bard College), Stefano Beggiora (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), Daniele Brombal (Ca’ Foscari), José Casanova (Georgetown University), Beatrice Gallelli (Ca’ Foscari), Stephen Macedo (Princeton University), Maria Cristina Paciello (Ca’ Foscari), Marcella Simoni (Ca’ Foscari), Francesca Tarocco (Ca’ Foscari).


You can request a certificate of attendance for the Seminars upon their conclusion by writing to In order to receive this certificate attendance is mandatory for all sessions.



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