An international conference co-organized by Jeanne Etelain and Phillip John Usher
Our current moment is one in which our understanding of democracy is placed under critical pressure, making it increasingly difficult to divide the world into "them" and "us"‐‐ and equally difficult to even know what is meant when we say "we." Whereas a certain modern tradition defies the political via the fundamental distinction between the friend and the enemy, such an opposition is much more complicated when democracy must think and deal with (1) climate change, (2) the refugee crisis, and (3) the rise of national populism.
The purpose of this two‐day event is to bring together thinkers from France, Europe, and the United States who work on the concept of democracy, at the intersection of several disciplines, especially philosophy, political science, ecology, sociology, literature, law, and cinema.
Some possible questions that might guide our thinking over these two days include, but are not limited to:
● Who says “we,” for whom, and from where?
● What is the genealogy of “we” as a political pronoun?
● Does the “we” precede, coincide, or follow the constitution of a political subject?
● What are other ways of saying and creating collectives?
● Is exclusion inevitable when forming political communities?
● Is democracy the appropriate government for all life forms?
This event on democracy seeks to be itself democratic, i.e. to be as inclusive as possible, to bring together scholars with diverse backgrounds, and to engage a wide audience. All sessions will be free and open to the public and will be filmed and made available free‐of‐charge online. The official languages of the conference are English and French.
All events but Democracy and Poetry with Philippe Beck and Nicola Allain will take place at La Maison Française, 16 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003.
Democracy and Poetry will take place at the Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E 3rd St., New York, NY 10009.
Friday, November 8
9:15 a.m. Opening remarks
Phillip J. Usher
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Keynote
Moderator: Emelyn Lih
Marielle Macé - Retour à ‘nous’
11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. The Politics of Pronouns
Chair: Laurence Marie
Martin Rueff - Les pronoms de l’égalité
Susan Maslan - Equality as Emotion: The Grammar of Personhood and the French Revolution
2:00 - 3:30 p.m. Tactics of Localities
Chair: Frédéric Viguier
Joelle Zask - De la culture de la terre aux pratiques démocratiques
Isabelle Coutant - The Migrant Crisis at Your Doorstep
3:45 – 5:30 p.m. Democratic Pedagogies
Facilitators: Downing Bray Kress & John Moran
With Peggy Cooper Davis, Athena Fokaidis, Hannah Freed-Thall, Indigo Rancourt, Hayet Sellami, Joshua Sooter
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. What We Owe to the Zad: Territories in Resistance
Moderator: Jeanne Etelain
Conversation with Jade Lindgaard
Saturday, November 9
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Keynote
Moderator: Emily Apter
Etienne Balibar - Democracy After Its Decline: Some Hypotheses
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Democracy Inside-Out
Chair: Emily Apter
Ali Benmakhlouf - The Democracy of Others
Emmanuelle Saada - Repairing the Demos? Reparations, History, Racial Justice
3:15 – 4:45 p.m. The Parliament of Things
Chair: Phillip John Usher
Martin Crowley - Antagonistic Alliances: Distributed Agency and Political Confrontation
Jane Bennett - Distributed Agencies, Democratic Vistas, and Middle-voiced Verbs
7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Democracy and Poetry
Location: Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E 3rd St., New York, NY 10009
Moderator: Emile Anceau
A poetry reading and conversation with Philippe Beck and Nicola Marae Allain
Sponsored by Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States; NYU Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture; NYU Center for the Humanities; The Florence Gould Foundation
Image: Euromaidan revolution in Kiev, 2014 © Chris / Adobe Stock