Seminar on freedom, territory, and diplomacy in a new climatic regime – University of Copenhagen

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Seminar on freedom, territory, and diplomacy in a new climatic regime

The ecological mutations urges us to rethink and reinvent the material, political and legal embeddings of our livelihoods. Modern civilization finds itself in a new situation, where it will have to reground itself and sketch out a realistic coincide between its people and its material conditions of existence.

This seminar contributes to an articulation of such embeddings and such a coincide by asking questions like: How come modern societies lost sight of the soil under their feet? How do we understand the spatial and material extension of the Moderns? And: How to ecologize politics? Do we move beyond political modernity or should ecological issues be framed within a modern political framework?

The seminar will feature an introduction by Nikolaj Schultz (Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen) and talks by Pierre-Yves Condé (Université de Bourgogne) and Pierre Charbonnier (CNRS). It is part of CAPS's on-going wish to contribute to the discussions on the political and social implications of the ’Anthropocene’ epoch.


14.00: Introduction by Nikolaj Schultz, PhD Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen

14:15: Pierre-Yves Condé, Maître de Conférences, Centre de Recherche et D’Etude en Droit et Sciences Politique (CREDESPO), Université de Bourgogne: "Ecologizing Politics? Diplomacy and International Law in the Face of Gaia"

Abstract: Modern politics is essentially a state politics. In order to respond to the challenges of the "Anthropocene", one often tries today to extend the reach of its foundational concepts and principles within and beyond the state. In the end, however, this extension of modern politics to new issues and values boils down to a modernization of modern politics. A different path has been explored by authors such as Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro or, more recently, Baptiste Morizot. "To modernize or to ecologize ? That's the question", as Latour titled a 1998 paper where "ecologization" largely meant turning politics into what he had already called, and would call again, "diplomacy". Indeed, by thinking in terms of "diplomacy” – a notion lost from sight by modern, state-oriented political philosophy - these authors aim to ecologize politics and rather than to modernize it. "Diplomacy", in their works, therefore points to another image of politics, political thought and political practice, an image which challenges the very notions of modern politics and political modernity. Against this backdrop, the primary purpose of this presentation will be to discuss the notion of diplomacy by analogy to the tradition of international law. At the same time, the tradition of international law, often reduced to principles of interstate law, will be revisited through the lens of "diplomacy". The goal is to contribute to the outlining of another image of law and politics as an alternative to state-centered "political modernity".

15:15: Coffee break

15:30: Pierre Charbonnier, Chargé de recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS): "Where is Your Freedom Now? On the Origins and Dead Ends of Modern Ubiquity": 

Abstract: Modern societies are premised on a territorial ambiguity that is currently coming back at us with an amazing power. Since the collapse of the Christian Empire that gave rise to the nation state and the genesis of a world economy rooted in ecological dispossession, Western people are simultaneously very worried to confine themselves into legally closed entities, and obsessed by geographical extension through conquest and market cosmopolitism. Ubiquity results: a situation where "developed" peoples live on two heterogenous territories - one defined by a political jurisdiction limited by mutually recognized frontiers, and a second one, informal but material, much larger, defined by the land requirements of our way of life. This ubiquity would not be a deep political enigma if freedom were not in the middle: as a legal concept, it is guaranteed by a sovereign power, but as a substantial set of practices, it is grounded in a fictitious illimited territory.

16:30: General discussion

17:00: Reception