News Details
05 April 2013

CISRUL activities 2012-13

Political Community, Citizenship Education, Politics of Oil & Gas

Alongside our seminars and visiting fellows, our 3 main CISRUL activites for 2012-13 - which are linked to each other - are as follows:

1. Political Community workshop and PhD summer school

Notions of political community are implicit in many or most contemporary debates - academic and public - of citizenship, civil society and rule of law, as well as of democracy, multiculturalism and human rights. But they are seldom made explicit and subject to analysis and reflection. That has also been our experience at CISRUL. Having debated and discussed aspects of citizenship, civil society and rule of law in a series of events since our founding in 2009, we have identified political community as a topic that crosscuts the three but which we have yet to comprehend fully, and are seeking papers that address the following questions:

  • When "political community" has been the explicit topic of debates, in particular times and places, what is meant by "political" and what is meant by "community"? What is not considered political and what is not community?  To give just two examples, how is political community distinguished from religious community? And community from society?
  • What notions of political community have been caught up in citizenship, civil society and rule of law? Does citizenship, for example, always entail political community?
  • Can we identify political community beyond citizenship, civil society and rule of law? For example, are universities political communities? How about families, businesses and churches? Is multitude, as Hardt and Negri suggest, an emergent form of political community? What other emergent political communities might there be?

Our interest in political community runs through two other CISRUL activities which are detailed on the website:

2. Citizenship Education forum and project

We held a forum for teachers, parents and researchers on 22-23 March 2013 to launch a project designed to improve the delivery of education for citizenship, working closely with schoolteachers, NGOs, and local and national government. The next stage will be a larger conference in 2014, prior to writing classroom materials and/or making policy recommendations. The project is relevant in that citizenship education is arguably all about building a political community, and conversely political community comes sharply into focus when looking at citizenship education.

3. Politics of Oil & Gas in a Changing UK public conference

We are holding a major public conference on 8-9 May 2013 that focuses on the politics of oil and gas but which has at its heart difficult questions about political community. To begin with, in 2014 Scottish voters face a referendum on whether they remain citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Their understanding of the political economy of oil and gas is likely to play a significant part in how they decide their future. But Scottish independence - with its obvious ramifications for political community - is only one of many decisions to be made about the future of hydrocarbons, and whether Scotland is independent or not, they are decisions that need to be taken. Public debate of the many aspects of this looming future is scarce, almost as if the future was inevitable or we were unable to influence it. Many decisions are being left to lawyers, government, experts or the market. As well as staging a public debate, the aim of the conference is to reflect theoretically on the dynamics of political community when valuable resources are at stake.


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