The Committee on Globalization and Social Change 2015–16 Fellowship competition is now open.
The Seminar: “Freedom”
Throughout the modern period, the development of capitalism, imperialism, and liberalism have been inseparable from novel forms of and ideas about “freedom.” Socially embedded forms of differentiation and exclusion (related to constructions race, gender, sexuality, religion, civilization etc.) have also been authorized by ideologies of freedom. Diverse theoretical traditions have developed sophisticated analyses of the entwined relationship between (forms of modern) freedom and (varieties of modern) domination. It is also the case that throughout the modern period innumerable social, political, intellectual, religious, and cultural movements seeking to overcome forms of modern domination have explicitly done so in the name of, and with the aim of, “freedom.”
Given this history, what kind of relationship might intellectuals and political actors today develop to the concept of freedom and its heterogeneous legacies? Is some notion of freedom necessary for critique, or is it on the other hand an obstacle to clear thinking about social justice? Is freedom best regarded as a dangerous ideology and a disabling fiction? A utopian desire or a regulative ideal? A concrete condition and/or a real possibility? Do the stakes change when we think of freedom as an idea as compared to a demand, a practice, a social status, or a form of lived experience? Should freedom be thought differently in relation to different political scales (e.g., local self-management, state forms, the global order)? Do different notions of freedom contain different temporal assumptions and/or different affective registers?
Some questions that projects might explore could include the following:
- In what way might we usefully distinguish freedom from, or re-articulate it with, related concepts of liberty, autonomy, and emancipation?
- How might a critical understanding of freedom help us to distinguish among varieties of unfreedom, domination, and alienation?
- How should we think about fugitivity, marronage and related practices and spaces of relative freedom with regimes of unfreedom?
- How might we consider freedom in relation to tensions between rights and responsibilities in struggles for empowerment and voice of minority groups?
- How might it be useful to think freedom in relation to terms such as equality, justice, solidarity, mutuality, reciprocity, accountability, responsibility, and/or revolution?
- Is there a tension between freedom and ethics, or are they indispensable to one another?
- How can we understand freedom in historically specific ways, in relation to particular historical moments or social formations? Or is it by definition a universal category?
- How might we engage different cultural traditions for understanding freedom and unfreedom? Or is freedom an inherently Western concept?
- How has the concept or experience of freedom circulated? Has it assumed different forms or meanings in different locations? Has it been a unifying or a divisive force translocally?
- Do contemporary structural transformations associated with globalization make freedom more or less useful as a concept and political reference point?
- In what ways might freedom need to be re-conceptualized for these times?
- Could a seemingly outmoded notion of freedom be re-functioned to address contemporary challenges?
- What are the political and analytic risks of holding onto a notion of freedom—or alternatively of abandoning it?
- Does freedom continue to underwrite current forms of domination, or continue to be useful as a standpoint from which to challenge them?
The CGSC is a transdisciplinary group whose collective work is not driven by any specific theory or ideology. We begin with the observation that existing categories and analytic frameworks are inadequate to grasp the dynamics of our historical present. We are thus interested not only in questioning conventional assumptions in light of contemporary developments but also in the possibility of reclaiming, reworking, and refunctioning seemingly outmoded concepts in and for these times. Given our interest in reflecting on the relationship between inherited concepts, critical theory, the contemporary situation, and political futures, we believe it will be fruitful to think together about the question of “Freedom” today, beyond the familiar debates between abstract universal humanism and concrete cultural particularism. We thus welcome applications from faculty and doctoral candidates for whom the question of “Freedom” figures in some significant way in their research. We are interested in scholars from any field whose thinking crosses traditional academic boundaries and whose work is empirically rich and theoretically informed.
Fellows will be expected to participate in the weekly Committee seminar, held Tuesday mornings 10:30 am – 12:30 pm. Please note: Ability to attend seminars on Tuesday mornings is a prerequisite of eligibility. During the fall semester, the seminar focuses on readings and presentations by visitors. In the spring fellows will present their work in progress for group discussion. Fellows are also expected to do their best to attend corresponding public events.
Applications are invited from doctoral candidates in the humanities and humanistic social sciences such as anthropology, religion, sociology, philosophy, political science, history, English, art history, theater, and comparative literature who engage and transect our seminar topic. This fellowship is only open to Graduate Center doctoral candidates (i.e. you must be Level III. There are no exceptions). Fellows will be expected to participate in the weekly Committee seminar as well as ongoing lectures and symposia. Committee seminars meet on Tuesday mornings, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is a condition of the fellowship that fellows leave this time free in their schedules.
With generous support from the Provost’s Office and the Graduate Center, CUNY, successful candidates will be granted $10,000 total for Fall 2015-Spring 2016 in return for a commitment to fully participate in the work of the Committee and in the weekly seminar. The basis for selection of participants will rest primarily on the relevance to the overall project of the work proposal submitted by applicants. In accord with the interdisciplinary aim of the program, selections will also be made with an eye to maintaining disciplinary diversity.
See here for more information on eligibility and requirements, and for detailed application instructions.
Applications are invited from scholars of the humanities and humanistic social sciences such as anthropology, religion, sociology, philosophy, political science, history, English, art history, theater, and comparative literature who engage and transect our seminar topic. With generous support from the Provost’s Office and the Graduate Center, CUNY, successful candidates will be granted two course releases from college teaching requirements, to be distributed across the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters at their department’s discretion, in return for a commitment to fully participate in the work of the Committee and in the weekly seminar.
The basis for selection of participants will rest primarily on the relevance to the overall project of the work proposal submitted by applicants. In accord with the interdisciplinary aim of the program, selections will also be made with an eye to maintaining disciplinary diversity. Applicants must be tenured, and preference will be given to faculty in the early stages of career development (i.e. within ten years of receiving tenure). Fellows will be expected to participate in the weekly Committee seminar as well as ongoing lectures and symposia. Committee seminars meet on Tuesday mornings, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is a condition of the fellowship that fellows leave this time free in their teaching schedules.
See here for detailed application instructions.