It is a great pleasure to announce that our proposal to organize a workshop at the 2016 ECPR Joint Sessions in Pisa has been successful. Our proposal is entitled “Imaging Violence: The Politics of Narrative and Representation”. This is, essentially, a subtheme of JUDGEPOL that has emerged to much more prominence over the past few months. I will host the workshop together with Dr. Mihaela Mihai (currently at York), who will soon begin work in Edinburgh as a Senior research Fellow and PI on an ERC Starting Grant project dealing with complicity and the arts.

The ECPR describes the Joint Sessions in the following way:

The Joint Sessions of Workshops have been hosted annually in March or April in an array of different European cities since 1973. They have been referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the ECPR and are recognised as one of the major highlights of the world’s political science calendar. The workshops are designed to be a forum for substantive discussion on research in progress and collaboration among scholars. […] The main objective of the workshops is to facilitate and encourage participation, equality and collaboration between younger and newer members of the profession, advanced students, and well-established professors. In order to achieve this, the size of each workshop is strictly limited.

As a former participant of one such workshop (organized by Sorin Baiasu and Sylvie Loriaux in 2011, on sincerity in ethics and politics), I can attest to the fantastic scholarly and friendly atmosphere of this event. We will strive to follow in Sorin’s and Sylvie’s footsteps when organizing our workshop.

Our workshop abstract is here:

Understanding political violence involves many different intellectual and societal operations: from examining the social macro-structures that enable and constrain actors engaging in violence, to investigating the motives and drives of individual perpetrators. One aspect, however, has received relatively little attention, even though it is central to a holistic approach to political violence: the faculty of imagination. This workshop will interrogate which role the faculty of imagination can play in understanding past as well as on-going instances of political violence. Several questions motivate this workshop: Can certain kinds of imagination help us tackle the challenge of responding to unprecedented forms of violence? What is the political value of literature recounting human rights violations in the aftermath of conflicts? What about the use of counterfactuals in justifying policy measures with regards to violence? Can media representations of distant suffering facilitate processes of understanding, build solidarity and catalyse action? Political theorists, IR scholars as well as comparativists have recently begun to raise these questions by looking into the politics of representation and narrative in the context of violence. We will create a forum for discussion among four established constituencies within ECPR: (1) political theorists working on the faculty of imagination and how it relates to other human capacities essential to political action; (2) students of transitional justice who examine the role of art in promoting reconciliation and democratic values in the wake of conflict; (3) IR scholars working at the intersection between politics and aesthetics; and (4) comparativists who investigate the institutional and informal mechanisms of tackling violence contextually. The interdisciplinary nature of the workshop will facilitate an inclusive and reflexive debate on the role that imagination as a faculty – and its artistic and methodological expressions – can play in unpacking complex issues of political violence.

In August 2015, we will open the Call for Papers. If you are interested in joining us in Pisa, please do get in touch!