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CFP: Oxford Political Theory Graduate Conference

Theme: Political Theory and the ‘Liberal’ Tradition
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Oxford
19-20 April 2012

Graduate students are invited to submit paper proposals for the inaugural Oxford Graduate Conference in Political Theory, to be held at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, on 19-20 April 2012. The theme for this conference is “Political Theory and the ‘Liberal’ Tradition”, and there will be two keynote addresses, given by Professor Jeremy Waldron (University of Oxford) and Professor Charles Mills (Northwestern University). The theme may be broadly construed, and we welcome papers addressing any of the following themes:

* The ‘liberal’ tradition and history of political thought: The canon of great political works is still believed to offer crucial insights for current theorising, thanks to their perception as continuous sources of wisdom about the salient principles of good government. But why are certain thinkers traditionally included, whilst others are not? Why are most ‘great’ thinkers dead, white, and male? Has liberalism been insensitive to the grievances of minorities, and to certain forms of oppression and exclusion? Finally, is the ‘liberal’ tradition a retrospective construct, which paradoxically includes thinkers who never considered themselves ‘liberals’?

* The core values of liberalism: The basic liberal tenets of liberty, democracy, solidarity, and equal rights have often been used as the basis for analysis of contemporary issues such as multiculturalism, human rights, and concern for future generations. Liberal political thought has also been closely entwined with Western conceptions of statecraft and diplomacy, and has significantly shaped the development of international norms in an era of increasing global interrelation. But how have these fundamental values been interpreted and balanced, and what are the tensions between them? Can there be new ways to apply the core values of liberalism to key questions in contemporary political philosophy?

* Liberalism and ideology: Historically, the liberal tradition competed with, and evolved alongside, many other political ideologies—including conservatism, socialism, anarchism, nationalism, and green politics—with which it has often combined to form important new hybrids. Is it possible to write about a fixed substantive content of liberal ideology? What are the commonalities and overlaps between liberalism and other traditions? How have the various ‘liberalisms’ present in modern political thought developed historically and ideationally? And what is the relationship between liberal ideology and ‘real’ liberal politics at national and international levels?

Up to twelve papers will be accepted overall; each panel will be led by an Oxford Faculty member and include a graduate student as respondent.

Proposals of no more than 500 words are requested by 15 January 2012, with accepted papers to follow by 31 March 2012. Please submit abstracts formatted for blind review, along with your name, educational status, and institutional affiliation, to oxford.poltheory.conference (at) gmail.com. Details on how to register for the conference to follow shortly.