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Conceptualizing Difference Conference and Summer School

April 13, 2021 April 16, 2021

CISRUL was proud to host the conference Conceptualizing Difference in April 2021. The idea of ‘difference’ governs today’s political thinking. Struggles for equality and justice are generally concerned with recognizing and protecting differences, not least because varieties of difference, including gender, sexuality, race, class, religion and language are used to justify political oppression, discrimination and exclusion. In short, difference has become axiomatic to political debate.

This interdisciplinary conference aimed to critically interrogate ‘difference’ as a political category, reflect on its repercussions for thinking and acting, and explore whether it is possible to go beyond ‘difference’. You can find the Call for Papers here, and the conference programme and book of abstracts here.

Speakers included Lewis R. Gordon, Jane Anna Gordon, Sabine Hark, Gurpreet Mahajan and Anya Topolski (Click here for more information on the keynote speakers). Initially scheduled for June 2020, this event was postponed due to COVID-19 and took place online from 13-16 April 2021, along with an accompanying interview series with our speakers, ‘Talking Difference’, which is available to view here.

Jane Anna Gordon

Professor of Political Science with affiliations in American Studies, El Instituto, Philosophy, and Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Jane Anne Gordon is author of, most recently, Statelessness and Contemporary Jane Anna Gordon is author of, most recently, Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement (Routledge 2020) and Creolizing Political Theory: Reading Rousseau through Frantz Fanon (Fordham University Press 2014) and co-editor (with Drucilla Cornell) of the forthcoming Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg and (with Cyrus E. Zirakzadeh) of The Politics of Richard Wright: Perspectives on Resistance (University Press of Kentucky 2019). President of the Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) from 2014-2016, she continues to direct the CPA Summer School and to co-edit the Creolizing the Canon and Global Critical Caribbean Thought book series. With Lewis R. Gordon, she edits the new, open-access journal, Philosophy and Global Affairs

Lewis R. Gordon

Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, Honorary President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies, and Honorary Professor in the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa.

Lewis R. Gordon has written extensively on race and racism, postcolonial phenomenology, aesthetics, Africana and black existentialism and the works of W.E.B. DuBois and Frantz Fanon. His recent books include monographs Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization (2021) and What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Portrait of His Life and Thought (2015) as well as co-edited volumes Geopolitics and Decolonization: Perspectives from the Global South (2018) and Journeys in Caribbean Thought: The Paget Henry Reader (2016). 

Sabine Hark

Professor for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies and the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Women’s and Gender Studies at the TU Berlin. 

Sabine Hark is a prominent public intellectual who regularly intervenes in debates on democracy, racism, sexism, and gender equality. Her books include: deviante Subjekte. Die paradoxe Politik der Identitaet [Deviant Subjects. Paradoxes of the Politics of Identity] (1996, 1999);  Dissidente Partizipation. Eine Diskursgeschichte des Feminismus [Dissident Participation. A Discourse History of Feminism] (2005); Vermessene Raeume, gespannte Beziehungen. Unternehmerische Universitaeten und Geschlechterdynamiken [Measured Spaces, Tense Relations. Entrepreneurial Universities and Gender Dynamics], with Johanna Hofbauer (2018), and The Future of Difference: Beyond the Toxic Entanglement of Racism, Sexism and Feminism, with Paula-Irene Villa (2020). She is a member of the editorial board of Germany’s leading feminist theory journal, Feministische Studien. Her current book project is entitled Community of the Unchosen. Notes on a political ethos of cohabitation [Gemeinschaft der Ungewählten. Umrisse eines politischen Ethos der Kohabitation] forthcoming with Suhrkamp fall 2021.

Gurpreet Mahajan

Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy of Social Sciences at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Gurpreet Mahajan specializes in Political Theory and Philosophy of Social Sciences, with particular emphasis on hermeneutics, democratic theory, multiculturalism, religion and state, and civil society. Her recent books include India: Political Ideas and the Making of a Democratic Discourse (2013) and The Multicultural Path: Issues of Diversity and Discrimination in a Democracy (2002).

Anya Topolski

Associate Professor in Ethics and Political Philosophy at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

Anya Topolski is principle investigator for the for the Race-Religion Constellation Project and coordinator of the Race, Religion, Secularism Network. Her areas of expertise include racism, political philosophy, ethics, European identity and exclusion, gender, antisemitism and Islamophobia, political theology, Jewish thought, Arendt, Levinas, and Judeo-Christianity. She recently published Arendt, Levinas and A Politics of Relationality (2015) and the edited volumes Ethics for Psychologists: A Global and Case-Based Approach (2018) and Is There a Judeo-Christian? A European Perspective (2016). Her current research is in the field of critical philosophy of race and focuses on the race-religion intersection in Europe. 

This event was organised by A. Sophie Lauwers and Fredericke Weiner


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326.


April 13, 2021
April 16, 2021
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