ICASMP2017 Inaugural

ICAS:MP Inaugural Conference

Changing Contours of the Political

Berlin, State House of Thuringia  (Mohrenstrasse 64)

October 9/10, 2017


Key Note   –  Concept Note /Abstracts   –   Programme  


   P R O G R A M M E
Monday, October 9



Prof. Martin Fuchs (German Director): Introduction to ICAS:MP

Prof. Sanjay Srivastava (Indian Director): Introduction to

“Changing Contours of the Political” 

18.30-20.00 Keynote: Non-Racialism in the post-apartheid Political
Prof. Deborah Posel, University of Cape Town
20.00-22.00 Reception

At State House Thuringia  (cafeteria)



October 10

Panel Discussions

(4 speakers, 15 min. each)

9.30-11.00 Panel 1: Debating Democracy / Rethinking Democracy
11.00-11.30 tea/coffee break
11.30-13.00 Panel 2:  Debating Development/ Rethinking Development 
13.00-14.30 Lunch break
14.30-16.00 Panel 3: Debating Diversity/ Rethinking Diversity
16.00-16.30 tea/coffee break
16.30-18.00 ICAS:MP  Plenary ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’
19.30 Dinner


Key Note 

Non-Racialism in the post-apartheid Political  (Prof. Deborah Posel)

Monday, October 9th, 6.30 pm

If apartheid South Africa was the most racialized society in the world, the constitutional democracy that birthed the ‘new’ South Africa asserted ‘non-racialism’ as its central, foundational value.  It is enshrined – albeit undefined – in Chapter One of the Constitution, which a leading legal scholar has described as the ‘most sacred part’ of this text and what it stands for.  In recent years, however, the precept of non-racialism has come under increasing pressure – associated with allegations that the inaugural promises of emancipation remain unrealized.  What was the original promise of ‘non-racialism’? How and why has it become so precarious?   My lecture anchors these questions in a reading of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of the pivotal interventions at the vanguard of the non-racial project.   I consider the ethical radicalism of the Commission’s version of the precept, at the same time as revealing its fragility in the nascent identity politics that took root within the inner workings of the Commission itself.


Concept Note

The distinction between ‘politics’ and ‘the political’ seems to have become a key precept of modern social science, philosophy, and cultural history. The reason for this shift has still to be explored and attempted explanations focus on the changing role of the nation state as actor and object of political science, and the broadening of the field of politics. Today, ‘the political’ modifies its ‘aggregate state’ continually, encompassing new fields of social practice as it withdraws from others, frequently appearing as ‘antipolitics’. This has triggered an intensive and interdisciplinary debate on the contours and content of ‘the political’.

Recent academic debate on the political has concentrated on multiple areas of politicisation: the role, forms and advances of civil society and social movements, the politicization of law and, in particular, of rights, the drive for the democratization of democracy, including modal changes of democratic procedures, and the diversification of forms of governance regarding state and non-state actors. Forms of political exclusion and questions of recognition and justice have likewise received increased attention recently. With respect to all these topics, the Indian subcontinent features both, as one of the major arenas of contestation and as a centre of scholarly debate. India is therefore rich with resources for decentering conventional notions of ‘the political’.

As an interdisciplinary forum for intellectual exchange, organized in a modular structure, the International Centre of Advanced Studies: ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’ aims to focus on these key political processes and questions from a comparative point of view and by applying a long-term perspective. Located in the global South where ‘most of the world’ resides, ICAS:MP critically intervenes in debates in the social sciences, which, despite relying almost entirely on evidence from North-Atlantic rim societies, claim universal applicability. ICAS:MP will serve as an Indian-based centre of advanced international studies in order to consciously unsettle the methodological nationalism and Eurocentrism that continue to frame research in the humanities and social sciences.

The Inaugural Conference has the special objective to outline and present the scope of the research endeavour of ICAS:MP to a wider intellectually interested audience. The conference will also pay attention to the modular structure of the Centre and therefore offers a forum to represent the particular focus of research of each of the modules.