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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

The Territory of “a People”: Questioning Community

18th graduate philosophy conference

The Territory of “a People”: Questioning Community

Friday, March 3 – Saturday, March 4, 2017
Boston College

See full schedule below.

Co-sponsored by the Boston College Philosophy Department and
the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.


Keynote Speakers:

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law School

Michael Hardt

Michael Hardt

Professor of Roman Studies at Duke University

David Wood

David Wood

W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy and Professor of European Studies at Vanderbilt University

Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback

Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback

Professor in Philosophy at Södertörn University

Friday, March 3, 2017: Nomos of “a people”
Murray Function Room, Yawkey Center


8:30 a.m.
9:00 a.m.
Introduction & Session I: Nomos of "a People"

9:15 a.m.


Paper 1 | Leisure and Freedom: The Philosophical Life According to the Theaetetus and Apology

Christine Rojcewicz, Boston College

9:45 a.m.


Paper 2 | The Holocaust and the Coming of Christ: Hannah Arendt on Jewish Responsibility and Community

Lauren Eichler, University of Oregon

10:30 a.m.


Keynote Address | Dialectic of Islamic Umma and the “Nation” State: the Power of Ambiguous Myths

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law School

Contrasting the timeless notion of “the Islamic Umma” and recent notion of “Nationalism”, and questioning their relative utility and limitations in competing geopolitical contexts, and exploring ways of reconciling them in service  of universal values of peace and social justice.”

11:30 a.m.


Discussion | What Is Islamic Community?

Dr. Dipascuale, Dr. Orwin, Prof. Rasmussen, and Prof. An-Na’im

12:45 p.m. Lunch break

1:30 p.m.


Paper 3 | The People of Democracy and the Authority of the State: On Alexandre Kojeve's Theory of Authority

Toni Koivulahti, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Helsinki

2:00 p.m.


Paper 4 | Rethinking Refuge from Arendt to Derrida

Sujaya Dhanvantari, Concordia University, Montreal Quebec

2:45 p.m.


Keynote Address | Love of the People

Michael Hardt, Professor of Roman Studies at Duke University

One obstacle to employing a political concept of love are all of the destructive political movements and projects conducted in the name of love, even love of the people. I want to explore the different modes of love — not all political love functions the same way — in relation to different conceptions of the people. Reference points will be Machiavelli, Arendt, Kantorowicz, and Che Guevara.

3:45 p.m.


Discussion | The Political Movement

Dr. Edward Mcgushin, Dr. Michael Hardt, Dr. Erin Gilson


Saturday, March 4, 2017: Topos of “a people”
Gasson Hall, Room 305


8:30 a.m.

9:00 a.m.


Introductory Keynote | Mortal Community

Prof. John Sallis, Boston College

10:00 a.m.


Paper 5 | The Ecology of Dasein

Kevin Marren, Bosotn College

10:30 a.m.


Paper 6 | The Binding Void

Matthew Mersky, Boston College

11:15 a.m.


Keynote Address | On Track for Terratoriality

David Wood, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Art at Vanderbilt University

12:15 p.m.


Discussion | The Question of Ecology and Environmental Ethics  

Prof. David Wood, Dr. David Storey, Prof. John Sallis

1:15 p.m. Lunch break

2:00 p.m.


Paper 7 | On the Obligations for Grounding Community

John Bagby, Boston College

2:30 p.m.


Paper 8 | Imagined Communities: Fichte, Spinoza and the Political Imagination

Ryan Johnson, Boston College

3:15 p.m.


Keynote Address | Being without a People

Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Professor in Philosophy at Södertörn University

A general discussion of the question of community from the experience of exile.

4:15 p.m.


Discussion | Refiguring the in-between: Imagination and Community

Prof Richard Kearney, Prof Schuback, Prof Sallis

5:30 p.m. Farewell

Speaker Bios

Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na‘im is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, and Associated Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences of Emory University, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion. An-Na‘im is the author of: What is an American Muslim (2014); Muslims and Global Justice (2011); Islam and the Secular State (2008); African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam (2006); and Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil liberties, human rights and international law (1990). His edited books include Human Rights under African Constitutions (2003); Islamic Family Law in a Changing World: A Global Resource Book (2002); Cultural Transformation and Human Rights in Africa (2002); and Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Quest for consensus (1992). He also published more than 60 articles and book chapters on human rights, constitutionalism and Islam and politics in African and Islamic countries. An-Na‘im’s primary current research project since 2007 is on The Future of Sharia under secular states and legal systems. The blog for this project, in addition to the full text of his book, Islam and the Secular State in eight languages and other materials can be downloaded free of charge are all accessible at


Michael Hardt teaches in the Literature Program at Duke University. He is co-author with Antonio Negri of the Empire trilogy (Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth) as well as Declaration. He currently serves as editor of The South Atlantic Quarterly.


Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback is Professor of philosophy at Södertörn University (Sweden). Before moving to Sweden she was associate professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Brazil. Her field of specialisation is continentanl philosophy, with focus on phenomenology, hermeneutics, German Idealism and contemporary existential philosophy. She is the author of several scientific articles and mongraphs in Swedish, Portuguese and English including; Lovtal till intet (In praise of nothingness. Essays in philosophic hermeneutics, 2006), Olho a olho: ensaios de longe (Eye to eye: essays from far away , 2010), Att tänka i skisser (Thinking in and n sketches, 2011, Being with the Without, a conversation with Jean Luc Nancy 2013, Dis-orentations: Philosophy, Literature and the Lost Grounds of Modernity (co-edited with Tora Lane), Time and Form. Essays on Philosophy, Logics, Art and Politics (co-edited with Luiz Carlos Pereira (2015).


David Wood is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches Continental and Environmental Philosophy. His books include Thinking After Heidegger, The Step Back: Ethics and Politics After Deconstruction, and Time After Time, and he has edited some 12 other volumes. He is also a practicing Earth Artist.

Call For Papers

In the contemporary political discourse, the fate of people are easily affected with universalized categories and concepts: citizens, strangers, others, refugees, immigrants, Americans, Mexicans, Jewish, Muslim, British, Non-British, European, non-European, etc. We seek to critique these so-called borders and de-borderings in a genuine philosophical activity of thinking and dialectic.

What is “a people”? Where does a “gathering” of people take place? What is the memory of this place? How do the pre-established organization of geography and relics—unconscious history—begin to make sense? This conference problematizes the notion of community and sheds light on the multiple forces of attraction that affect bodies coming together in a geopolitical movement.  Thus, we are going to delve into the conditions under which such a gathering of “a people” might come to pass while preserving the phenomenon of their multiplicity and singularity. Also, the ecological and geographical attractions of the place which draw bodies into them.

The papers are going to be put in three domains of Politics, Ecology, and Aesthetics. Here are some general titles and themes we are going to work with:

  • the interplay of law, constitutions and social contracts within and in the formation and organization of community.
  • the role of affects in political organization
  • the relation of the economy, commodity and capital in the formation of a community 
  • the dialectic of nation state and globalization
  • emigration and adaptation of the nomadic body
  • environmental and ecological perspectives on human communities 
  • the interplay of human ecologies, social ecologies and political ecologies
  • the intersection of animality and civilization 
  • Umwelt, animal world's and the ecology of affects 
  • the role of imagination and narrative in community
  • the intersection of sexuality and body with community
  • history and interpretation as productive of a community
  • the community of myth and the myth of community

Submitted papers should not exceed 3500 words and should be written with the goal of a 20-minute presentation in mind. Please prepare submission for blind review, and include name, title, and institutional affiliation on a cover page.

Submissions and inquiries should be sent to:

The deadline for submissions is December 15, 2016.