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10.06.2018 12:09 Alter: 8 days

Reconceptualizing Civic Rights and Democracy

Call for Papers

Theme: Reconceptualizing Civic Rights and Democracy
Type: 1st International Workshop
Institution: Working Group 3: Concepts, COST Action CA 16211 RECAST
  Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos, University of Coimbra
Location: Coimbra (Portugal)
Date: 2.–3.11.2018
Deadline: 31.7.2018

The Workshop “Reconceptualizing Civic Rights and Democracy” is the
first of a series of three workshops to be organized by Working Group
3: Concepts of the COST Action CA 16211 Reappraising Intellectual
Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe (RECAST). This will
be an exploratory workshop whose substantive goal is to map the key
concepts operating at several different levels in the debates on
civic rights and democracy, assess their specific, context-bound
semantic changes, and eventually contribute to redefine some of them.
It will also aim at defining the central theoretical paths that will
be explored in the two subsequent workshops of this working group,
and thus devising a publication plan of the main results. The overall
goal of RECAST is to “reappraise the contributions of intellectual
debates to the challenge of civic rights in European democracies” and
in so doing it “seeks to revamp the path connecting intellectual
debates, public debates, politics and policy action”. Within this
framework, concepts play a key role in bridging the gap between
theory and practice and unfolding the complexity of the political,
legal, historical and institutional layouts of civic rights and
democracy, as well as the relations between them.

While concepts sometimes share a context-transcending claim towards a
possible universal validity, one cannot overlook the fact that
through their different interpretations, applications and
(mis)appropriations, their meaning is related to a wide array of
different, and sometimes conflicting context-specific usages. For
instance, human rights are universal in their claims but their
concrete instantiations depend on the political will of sovereign
states. And also in European democracies there is often a tension
between the respect for these universal rights, and other priorities
that often lead to their neglect – the recent refugee crisis being a
case in point. Furthermore, concepts such as “freedom”, “justice” or
“equality” are appropriated by different political parties, social
movements or NGOs that try to spell out their claims by resorting to
them. Others, such as “terrorism” or “populism” are used according to
an antagonistic logic that aims at identifying the enemy. As such,
concepts are implicitly or explicitly mobilized by political and
social agents as well as by scholars.

Within this context, Working Group 3: Concepts sets out to analyze
the uses of concepts from political, philosophical, historical, legal
and non-scholarly perspectives. For this exploratory workshop, it
invites submissions on the definition, use or interpretation of any
concept pertaining to civic rights and democracy. The submissions
should focus on the European framework, and they might (but not
necessarily) include a comparison between the uses of these concepts
in different countries. Proposals might explore (but are not limited
to) the following topics:

- The history, or histories, of civic rights, their elucidation and
application (or lack thereof) in European and neighboring countries,
including in the context of recent events, such as the economic
crisis, the refugee crisis and the rise of populism.

- The uses of specific concepts in the struggles of social movements
(e.g., the use of the vocabulary of “recognition” or “equality” in
feminist, LGBTQ, or other social movements, including those of

- The different appropriations of key concepts related to civic
rights and democracy, including positive concepts such as “freedom”
and “equality”, antagonistic concepts like “populism”, or concepts
whose signification often varies geographically (i.e. the
understanding of “socialism” in Eastern vs. Western Europe, or
“liberalism” in continental and Anglo-American traditions).

Potential participants should submit their proposals until 31 July
2018 to: and
These should include contact details along with the title, a 150-300
word abstract and 4-5 keywords.


This event is jointly organized by COST Action CA 16211 Reappraising
Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe (RECAST)
and Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos (CECH) da Universidade
de Coimbra


Gonçalo Marcelo (CECH, Univ. of Coimbra / Católica Porto Business
School), Working Group 3: Concepts Leader

Hanna-Mari Kivistö (University of Jyväskylä), Working Group 3:
Concepts Vice-Leader

Conference website: