Crisis and Political Theory


Workshop convenors: Dr Kerstin Budde, NYU Berlin, Dr Camilla Boisen, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Dr Natalie Riendeau, Independent Researcher

“The general crisis that has overtaken the modern world everywhere and in almost every sphere of life manifests itself differently in each country, involving different areas and taking different forms”, Hannah Arendt states in ‘The Crisis in Education’ (Arendt, 1993: 173). Whether we agree or not with Arendt’s assessment of the modern world, what is unquestionably of interest is the intellectual exercise she undertakes in this essay: that is, reflecting on crisis. Arendt argues that crisis provides an opportunity for reflection in that it tears away façades and obliterates prejudices, thereby allowing for exploration and inquiry into what has been laid bare of the essence of the matter (Arendt, 1993: 174). In other words, following Arendt, a crisis “forces us back to the questions themselves and requires from us either new or old answers” (Arendt, 1993: 174).

This, in sum, is the objective of the proposed workshop: to approach crisis as an opportunity for reflection, to explore and inquire into the essence of crisis by asking questions which require either new or old answers. That is, political theory is, in a sense, made necessary by crisis. Put another way, the aim of the workshop is to focus on the conceptualization and theorization of crisis, rather than on mere description and explanation. In this sense, the workshop invites papers that examine and reflect upon: the idea/concept of crisis in and of itself; the role played by crisis in the development of political thought and in the history of ideas; political thought as a reaction to crisis; whether existing concepts are adequate or if there is a need to develop new ones; and finally, the role played by crisis in generating new political and theoretical concepts and ways to address, resolve and surmount crisis.

In addition to these overarching themes, the workshop also welcomes papers that treat crisis in the different spheres of life, that address crisis with respect to the state and its different areas, as well as papers that explore the different forms crisis takes. Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

  • the migration and refugee crisis
  • the environmental crisis
  • the financial and economic crisis
  • the crisis in education
  • the crisis of the state
  • the crisis of religion
  • the crisis of culture/civilization
  • the crisis engendered by developments in science and technology
  • crisis in myths and counter-myths of modernity

If you would like to give a paper at this workshop, please send a 500 word abstract to by Friday 20th May.

Notification of acceptance: Friday 3rd June

Deadline for full papers: Friday 26th August

MANCEPT 2016 bursaries:

  • 30 bursaries covering the full cost of registration are available this year for anyone who is not currently in full-time employment.
  • The deadline to apply for a bursary is Friday 10th June.

To apply for a bursary, please visit the MANCEPT 2016 website: