EUI MWP Newsletter 9
Summer 2015

Welcome to the Summer 2015 issue of the
Max Weber Programme Newsletter

Feature Articles

Richard BellamyThis has been my first year as Director of the Max Weber Programme and what a year it has been. As under my predecessor, the Programme has continued to grow and develop with more Fellows, from more countries, sponsored by more sponsors beyond the EUI itself, and engaged in more diverse research and activities than ever before. Innovations for this year included the Master Classes with each of the Max Weber Lecturers, which all proved a great success. Most of the Lecturers also did a video interview with one or more Fellows. We also had a series of Occasional Lectures to supplement the Max Weber series, with many of the speakers being related to one or more of the Thematic Research Groups. These Groups were probably the main innovation, providing a forum for the presentation of Fellows’ work and the intellectual stimulus of working with Fellows from different disciplines and approaches on a common topic. In addition Fellows organised 12 Multidisciplinary Workshops and the final June Conference, to which postdocs from across Europe involved in the Marie Curie Programme were also able to participate for the first time. Meanwhile at the time of writing I’m pleased to be able to report that 98% of Fellows have a position for next year. Next year will see an even larger cohort of Fellows, with 60 joining us from all over the world. I am sure it will be as exciting a year as this.


Jose AguileraWhen in 2006 I became a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow, one of my goals was to try to study the history of Havana’s Botanical Garden; this centre and its activity became a privileged place to study the process of construction of Cuban national identity, which was the goal of my research at that time. Today, some years later, and with more consolidated research and an academic career, I intend to make this very local project into a more global study. I am studing how the Spanish government, from the base of the Botanical Garden of Madrid, planned a strategy to understand and classify the flora and natural wealth of the Spanish Empire in America, Asia and Africa.

Botanical gardens in the Canary Islands, Fernando Pó, Havana and Manila played a key role in this regard, along with the economic societies that had been created earlier in the Iberian Peninsula and in the empire’s colonies. The knowledge of the flora and natural wealth of colonial possessions became an obsession for the metropolitan government, which aimed for better control over its possessions. Although Cuba and the Philippines were in the antipodes of the western world, the science practiced there was very original, especially everything in connection with the acclimatization of plants. When the first European contacts took place, most of the island of Cuba and of the archipelago of the Philippines were covered by forests. With the passage of time, however, these big reservations were cut back. Trees were cut to open the way to agriculture, to provide construction material ‒ the wood itself ‒, to the navy, and to produce firewood.

With the aim to safeguard, to know and to exploit the resources of their possessions well, the metropolitan government subsidized the naturalist Ramón of Sagra’s trip from the Iberian peninsula to the island of Cuba. The central government supported Sagra’s idea of revitalizing the Economic Society of Havana, created at the end of the eighteenth century but clearly in decline by 1824. The objective was to create a place for discussion on the best way to exploit the island economically; with this in mind the writing of the Memorias de la Sociedad Económica began. Sagra was also able to create a botanical garden in Havana, in 1824, directed by himself and devised as a study centre and a nursery for plants with an economic value, such as sugar cane, cocoa, indigo, cochineal and some spices. Finally, he obtained money to found a chemistry class inside the botanical garden to study these products and to improve the techniques used to cultivate them, and to produce another periodical publication, the Anales, where all these advances were published. In addition the different delegations of the Economic Society, distributed in the main cities of the island, created commissions for the study of the flora of the island; their members also developed reports on the plants of their territories and these were sent to the Spanish naturalist. Sagra compiled all these data and the samples he received and the culmination of his work resulted in several studies of the flora of the island, highlighting its work Historia económico-política y estadística de la Isla de Cuba (1831) and Historia física, política y natural de la Isla de Cuba (1832-1861); this last was made up of thirteen volumes written between Havana and Paris and financially subsidized by the metropolitan government. This work, in spite of its significant errors, has not been superseded by any other. The Botanical Garden of Havana continued working after Sagra’s return to Europe at the end of the 1830s, although at a slower pace.

Something similar happened in the archipelago of the Philippines. As professor Greg Bankoff has explained, there the most remarkable of these naturalists was the religious brother Manuel Blanco, who arrived on the archipelago in 1805 as an Augustinian friar. As a representative of this order, he travelled a great deal through Luzón and Visayas, and thanks to this he was able to study their flora. Blanco's work, titled Flora de Filipinas, published for the first time in 1837, is still the most complete study of the the flora of the Philippines; nevertheless, it did contain errors, owing to the small number of available texts the firar could use to identify species. Two posthumous editions of the work, published in 1845 and 1877-83, did much to remedy the deficiencies of the first edition. The last edition identified plants according to Linnaeus’s system (Bankoff, 87).

As had happened in Havana, the Economic Society of Manila, created in the eighteenth century, was also revitalized at the begining of the following century and its members began the writing of the Memorias, a periodical publication, with the same objective, the study of the economic value of plants. In 1858 the Botanical Garden of Manila was founded and within it was created a botany and agriculture school. In spite of the botanical garden’s unfavorable location, in an old rice field surrounded by a river and the cemetery of the capital, the enthusiasm of its first directors ensured experimentation and the successful introduction of a considerable number of exotic plants with great economic potential. The most important achievement in these first years was the publication of an elementary text on agriculture, Cartilla de agricultura filipina, by the second director of the institution, Zoilo Espejo, and used to teach native people in schools. Later on, the garden was directed by Domingo Vidal y Soler. Unfortunately, the legacy of that botanical corpus was lost almost completely at the end of the nineteenth century because, during the war of independence, the botanical collections, the detailed maps on the forests of the archipelago made by the Commission of Flora of the Economic Society, the herbaria and more important collections of the natural history of the colony, were destroyed.

I think the botanical gardens of Cuba and the Philippines were part of a network of botanical centres connected with the Botanical Garden of Madrid, the objective of which was to create a great system (network) of botanical exchange. The metropolitan government connected the Botanical Garden of Madrid with those of Havana and Manila through two plants nurseries that it had built in the Canary Islands and Fernando Pó, in Africa. This system helped many businessmen to build empires based on sugar cane, cocoa, coffee, etc. Later on, the central government, with the objective of controlling the damage that this economic growth could cause in the nature of the colonies, supported the founding of a general inspectorate (inspección general de montes) in Cuba and in the Philippines. These institutions developed surveys or systematic polls of the forests of both territories, they helped to identify the main species that grew in each place and they estimated the proportion of wood in each territory, a task of enormous proportions. As professor Bankoff explains, it is certain that all those scientific successes in the Spanish colonies were few compared with the advances in western Europe. Nevertheless, the colonies of the Spanish Empire were not a scientific desert, and far from being a society collapsed in superstition, it was a place of scientific activity. Frequently, this colonial moribund state, in spite of its severe penury, found the necessary money to support important research centres like the botanical gardens of Havana and Manila. (Bankoff 92-93). In a second phase of this project I will compare the results for the Spanish Empire with the British, French and Dutch Empires.

One of the elements that has helped me to progress towards a more global view of history in general and botanical gardens in particular has been my work as professor at the university. I came to the University of Cordoba a few years ago and I have taught history to students with very different backgrounds; a large number of Erasmus students from Europe are concentrated in this Andalusian city, as well as students from Latin America and the United States. This has given me contact with various historiographical traditions and forced me to take a global view of events, and not to look only at the local impact.


Mathias DeloriI was an SPS Max Weber fellow during the academic year 2008-2009. I currently work as a CNRS research professor at the Centre Emile Durkheim of Sciences Po Bordeaux, France. My new research focuses on the role of emotions in wars. I would like to say a few words about this because it resonates with some recent development in French and international politics, namely the collective and political reactions to the terrorist attacks of January 2015 in Paris. In a book co-authored with Gilles Bertrand, I have proposed a critical assessment of the mainstream reaction to the attacks (Bertrand and Delori 2015). I summarize the argument in the following paragraphs.

Like many observers, I was astonished by the collective reactions provoked by the attacks of January 2015 in Paris. People started gathering on the evening of January 7 and continued to do so over the following days. On 11 January, about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a rally of national unity, and 3.7 million people joined demonstrations across France. Parallel to this, a slogan spread through facebook and some other media: “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”). On January 14, Charlie Hebdo published a new issue – the first after the attacks ‒ with another representation of Prophet Muhammad. The issue’s print run of almost 8 million copies became the record of the French press.

Based on what people have said, written, and done (symbolically), one can say that those reactions took two different forms. The first, outrageously racist, stated that Islam had declared war on the West and that the West had the right to defend itself. Several Islamophobic opinion leaders put forward this interpretation after the attacks. This reaction materialized, for instance, in the French conservative party contribution to the French fight against terrorism: the submission of a bill banning the Muslim veil in universities. The second interpretation proposed, instead, not to confuse Islam with terrorism and to make war only on terror. This second approach, dominant in official speeches and editorials of the mainstream press is more nuanced than the first in that it denounces the impropriety of the assimilation of one billion people to the acts of a few. It also presents itself as “humanist” in that it condemns the hateful ideologies and calls for peacefully gathering in solidarity with the victims of the attacks.

Although different at first sight, these two interpretations have at least one thing in common: their highly emotional dimension. Indeed, they are not based only on articulated reasoning but also on a constellation of different feelings and emotions. On the one hand, coarse Islamophobic reactions are driven by negative emotions: fear and hatred of the other, vengeful instincts, etc. On the other hand, the “humanist” reaction seems crossed, first and foremost, by positive emotions: compassion and sympathy with the victims, emotional attachment to grand values (freedom of the press, liberal democracy, the republic, etc.). In the book, I analyze this second set of reactions – the “positive” ones – because it has not, apparently, the belligerent and rude character of the first.

J. Butler wrote a series of essays on the “positive” emotions provoked by the September 11 attacks in the United States (Butler 2010). She observed that those emotions took a “humanist” form whilst relying on a particular and selective notion of “humanity”. More precisely, she notes that the “humanist” discourse organized the celebration of the 2992 victims of the September 11 attacks but found no words nor sympathy for the victims, incomparably more numerous, of the US war against terrorism. Hence, Butler asks: “How is it that we have not been given the names of the dead from that war, including those that the US has killed, those whom we will never have a picture, a name, a story, never any testimony fragment of their lives, something to see, to touch, to know?” (Butler 2010: xx).

Now, this observation finds a profound resonance with what has happened in France since January 7, 2015. On January 14, thousands of Muslim people went onto the streets in order to protest against the decision of Charlie Hebdo to publish a new front page representing – again – Prophet Muhammad. Some of those demonstrations turned into riots. French embassies were attacked. Local police forces replicated. In Niger, the symbolic violence of the Charlie Hebdo front page materialized in a tragic way (at least 10 people were killed). Simultaneously, French Forces intensified the strikes against the Islamic State while launching some other “special” operations. So far, the so-called “humanist” discourse – which people call the “spirit of January 11” in France ‒ has not found any words for the victims of the Nigerien riots and those of the French war on terror.

The practical corollary of this observation is that these scenes of public compassion are not trivial. Behind their screen of positive neutrality, they are symbolic performative acts. These ceremonies teach us which lives we should grieve over, but above all whose lives remain excluded from the modern and humanistic economy of compassion. In other words, the political decisions which followed the demonstrations of January 2015 – the war on terror and the institutionalization of a state of exception (MPs are about to vote a French patriot act) did not betray the “spirit of January 2015”. Rather, they are two faces of the exact same coin, namely that of humanitarian violence. Indeed, it would be mistaken to think that wars and violence sprout solely from negative emotions. Contrary to a widespread idea, the hatred of the “Boche” and “Franzmann” was not the prime cause of the First World War. This war also took root in the most positive feelings on Earth: compassion for national victims of past wars, attachment to the national community or love of universalist values such as “civilization” in France and “Kultur“ in Germany.

One has the right to think that the war against Islamist terrorism is a legitimate war. But it is important to be aware of a statistical reality. Since 2001, Islamist terrorism has had 30 victims in France. These 30 deaths are 30 personal and family disasters that deserve recognition. This number, however, is smaller than many others. To give only one example, domestic violence has amounted to approximately 2,000 deaths in France over the same period. Now, this necro-economy (Weizman 2012) is certainly too cold. However, it teaches us that our political attitudes are fogged by our differentiated sensitivity to violence. Indeed, no one would think to send 250 kg bombs to the houses of the (secular, liberal and “humanist”) perpetrators of domestic violence. Why such unanimity in the French public discourse about the need wage a war (in the literal sense of the term) on Islamist terrorism?


Franz L. Fillafer, Magdalena MaleckaThis is a report on the Max Weber Multidisciplinary Workshop: The Politics of Law and the Behavioural Sciences. Historical Contexts and Conceptual Sources, held on 13th of May at the EUI.

Law’s relationship to 'nature' was long taken to determine its prestige and legitimacy as a science as well as its capacity to provide a toolkit for governance. Current research on law, as well as approaches to policymaking, are marked by an increasing interest in the findings of the behavioural and cognitive sciences. These observations prompted us to initiate the research project that was inaugurated with the workshop The Politics of Law and the Behavioural Sciences: Historical Contexts and Conceptual Sources hosted under the aegis of the EUI in mid-May. The meeting was an exciting experiment that brought together historians, philosophers, lawyers, and political theorists from several countries. It provided a site where participants could interrogate the relationship between law and nature in novel ways.

The study of the nexus between law and nature does not merely satisfy antiquarian curiosity, instead the talks and interventions of our participants immediately highlighted the considerable political purchase of the enquiry we pursued. Our initial idea for the event originated in a shared feeling of discomfort and puzzlement about current law- and policymakers' reliance on 'scientific' knowledge about the ostensible regularities that underly human conduct: these data allegedly enable legislators to shape citizens' choice architectures and environments, to incentivise, enhance, and discourage behaviour.

We believe that this ill-conceptualised reliance on the alleged behavioural regularities of nature, while being a crucial issue in itself, is also highly topical because it constitutes a subordinate, parasymptomatic effect of a yet bigger problem that concerns the very identity of law as a coercive and normative order: if law should ideally adjust to the purported order of nature, how can it at the same time continue to act as an order that countervails ways of behaving, actions, and 'natural' or 'instinctual' inclinations? Our project aims at throwing into relief both the historicality of this problem and its present-day pertinence.

In order to achieve these aims it is indispensable to identify the recurrent patterns and tropes that lie behind the references to nature that legal theorists, lawyers, and policymakers make. This enables us to grasp the functional structure of these references to nature and naturalness in law.

Our workshop started with four deft and crisp expositions of the early modern facets of this problem. Catherine Wilson (York), Matthew Hoye (Maastricht), Stephen Bogle (Glasgow) and Ann Thomson (EUI) looked at the argumentative substructure of references to nature between 1600 and 1800 in Europe. This group of papers beautifully fleshed out two overlapping themes: first, the Epicurean challenge to the Christian-Stoic conception of the pristine and primeval precepts of nature as evinced by revealed religion. Second, the empirically informed subversion of immutable anthropologies and the medical, historical-philological and natural historical practises used to to this end.

Hoye, Bogle, and Thomson followed these refractions of law's relationship to nature by focusing on three fields: on the Hobbesian account of natural jurisprudence with its implications for the sanctioned maxims of princely rule and for the conditions of popular consent it elicited; on Calvinist Scottish lawyers' attempt to strike a balance between nature-induced human depravity and rational, responsible action as a prerequisite for legal relationships; on French eighteenth-century materialists' jettisoning of the belief in an essentially benign and divinely ordained nature and on the ethical predicaments caused by this shift.

In the second block of our event Leone Niglia (Exeter) offered a broad-ranging and trenchant discussion of the problems of 'naturalness' and of legal institutes as a set of inherited, historically conditioned artifacts in the era of codifications. José Brunner (Tel Aviv) dwelt on individual narratives in the aftermath of human rights violations and on their truth value as recognised by the courts. Brunner reflected on how (narrative) truth can become part of an assumed natural human makeup, but also about how states refashion themselves from being an agent of prosecution and enforcement to becoming a truth-facilitator (thereby also diagnosing a possible surreptitious shift from truth to therapy).

Finally, Agata Bielik-Robson's (Nottingham) paper brilliantly confronted presumptions about 'naturalness' and law by locating it in the tradition of what she identified as a 'nomotropist' desire, a specific Western tradition of thinking about nature as the source of normativity. She retrieved the ethical and epistemological contradictions that result from imparting 'nature' with immanent and overriding norms. In locating the baleful sociopolitical implications of this investment into nature, Bielik-Robson connected her superb exposition to the promise and perils of the biopolitical paradigm.

The stimulating discussion during our workshop crystallised around several crucial questions. The supremacy of immutable, all-encompassing and constant nature can be reappraised if one retrieves the layers hidden under an apparently solid crust. One option for this kind of interrogation is to structure the inquiry around the transition from the principles that nature evinced or enacted for human beings to follow (vivere secundam naturam) to the observable natural regularities of human behaviour. Another option consists in arranging the research strategy around the divide between 'normality' and 'anomaly' in the sense that it poses the question whether rights are derived from human beings' 'natural' deficiencies/depravities or capacities.

It became clear to us during the conference that we will get a firmer grip on the problem by adopting a conceptual framework that permits us to foreground the functions and representations of references to nature that supposedly informed and continue to inform legal thought and practice. Instead of focusing primarily on notions and accounts of the laws of nature, on natural laws or on human nature, this will enable us to follow a specific set of references through adjacent but seldom connected fields and to reconcile the study of intellectual pursuits with the study of concrete practises. Here the challenge consists in drawing a vertical line of inquiry that slices through past and contemporary problems in order to filter out key tropes and schemes.

This approach should enable us to identify the recurrent patterns of nature that have been emulated, perhaps also replicated or simulated in legal-political contexts. It will also give us the opportunity to investigate in a more refined way the relationship between 'nature' and 'naturalness' as sanctioned, recognised, or complicated by the law. These guiding questions inspire two crucial and continuing emphases within our project. The first one concerns practises: how did religious or scientific styles of enquiry impart law with its function as being corrective of or conducive to 'human nature', what subsidiary governing techniques emerged in conjunction with these techniques, and what underlying anthropologies were bound up with the practises deployed? The second emphasis concerns the proliferation of and rivalry among different sources of scientific authority when it comes to modelling law and legal action after nature (e.g. biology and psychology).

Clearly these reflections are highly relevant if one wishes to tackle the dilemmas present in contemporary thinking about the law: the interlocutors in the current discussion about law's desirable or nefarious adjustment to 'nature' either seem locked in a vicious circle or to talk past each other. One group of scholars and philosophers deplores a process that increasingly divests law from the perceived principles, hierarchies and precepts of nature; these authors castigate the sanctioning of 'unnatural' practises which they take to originate in this process (particularly as regards pre-implantation diagnostics, genetic modification etc.). A different constituency pleads for law's adjustment to 'human nature' (natural behavioural regularities) in order to give policymakers the required tools for moulding citizens' behaviour. A third group marshals 'natural law'-inspired objections to exploitation and dependency-relationships and sees the ills of contemporary society and its legal frameworks as resulting from its increasing self-liberation from nature.

The philosophical premises of all three positions are shaky. All three strands fail to conceptualise 'nature' in a coherent manner, and this is also the case because each of them uses 'nature' as a self-explanatory point of reference and source of legitimacy. There is no reflection on the presuppositions behind these references, and neither on their structure and history. One of the aims of our project is precisely to clarify how these references work, to expose their implications for law and society, and to thereby complicate such references in general.

The success of our meeting at the EUI, by all standards an excellent venue for interdisciplinary encounters, encouraged us to further pursue this project. We will continue to follow the basic tension we have identified between law's role as adjusting to and countervailing 'nature', we will clarify the conceptual resources behind these assumptions and the epistemological predicaments they entail. We next plan to publish a selection of the papers delivered at our workshop and will also begin to plan another conference that we hope to hold next year.


Robert LepeniesTo be effective, poverty research must be global. Similarly, poverty researchers must meet as partners. These two realizations drove Global Colleagues, the one-to-one academic partnership programme between poverty scholars in the Global North and South, which was recently launched by a volunteer team for Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP).

Global Colleagues’ first cohort was launched in May 2015 and brings together 68 very diverse scholars from all around the world (from Bangladesh to Germany, from the US to Zimbabwe). The inaugural cohort has just gone public and the partnerships are now live. Thus far, we have learned that Global Colleagues is unique: it is a truly global, independent and multidisciplinary programme run completely by academic volunteers. It is also an experiment: We are very excited to see how well colleagues will work together – and who will learn what from whom.

The spectrum of research topics is huge and ranges from institutional safeguards for childrens’ rights in Nigeria, to Indian identity politics, global food security, tax evasion by mining companies in Africa, ocean acidification and small-scale fisheries, ethnocultural justice, rural insurgency in Mexico, public services delivery in Cambodia and critical development studies. Interestingly, the biggest two groups of scholars are applied economists and philosophers.

Many of the projects tie in to similar projects that ASAP has initiated as part of the Institutional Reform Goals (IRG) project, which focuses on involving academics in the reform of global institutions. Severe poverty has local causes – but also global ones. There are many international institutions and practices that are held to perpetuate poverty. For example, the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement is often criticized for hindering people in poverty from accessing essential medicines. Climate change, for which the Global North is primarily responsible, threatens to erode development in the Global South. A global system of tax havens facilitates massive outflows from the Global South. All of these factors perpetuate poverty, and ending poverty will require reforms of global institutions. The world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries will have to play a leading role in solving these problems, because they are the primary beneficiaries and enforcers of the status quo. The IRG project aims to raise academic voices to propose policies of reform and to call for action.

It is to be hoped that Global Colleagues is a step in the direction of globalized poverty research. Research on development itself is not very globalized, and much can be done to improve the state of institutional attempts to link academics in global research networks. The primary goal of Global Colleagues is to help early-career colleagues. More experienced colleagues support them by providing feedback on their research and professional goals, recommending books and articles, giving guidance on targeting publications, and where possible making introductions and identifying conference and funding opportunities. Ideally, the learning will be mutual: we designed Global Colleagues as a partnership, not a mentorship programme:

The one-year partnership connects pairs of colleagues to engage in a mutually beneficial exchange. The partnership enables experienced researchers already embedded in relevant networks to better understand the work context of their early-career colleagues and, ideally, opens up opportunities for research collaboration on poverty-related issues. To better understand expectations and concerns about the program, we recently completed a survey of early-career scholars, asking them about their perspective on poverty research, and academia in the North and South, as well as their expectations and views on the programme itself (a big thank you goes to the many helpful comments from colleagues in the Max Weber programme who helped in the design and testing). Looking into the future, we hope to include the current cohort of Global Colleagues in the administration and managing of the next cohort.

One of the upcoming ideas is also inspired by the Max Weber Programme: inspired by the academic skills courses offered to postdocs, it is our long term goal to offer similar skills workshops to early-career scholars world-wide (first via Skype). If you’d like to give a course or know someone who would like to, please be in touch. We are also always happy to accept (self-)nominations for Global Colleagues (and we are also always looking for interns).

If you can, spread the word about the programme following the pilot cohort’s launch. We hope to start a dialogue about barriers to progression in global academic careers, and ways in which these can be overcome.


Julia McClureThe Laudato si, the Encyclical letter released by the papacy last week, has been described as a call for all people, Christians and non Christians, for a cultural revolution against the ‘treacherous appetites of capitalism’, to save our planet from the disasters wrought by over-consumption and a utilitarian approach to the world. Like so many times during his papacy, in this letter Francis looked to the history of the Franciscan Order, a socio-religious movement with a unique doctrine of poverty, which has been a powerhouse of radical, alternative ideas. The importance of Franciscan ideas, and their alternative perspective on the world, may too easily be overlooked by the modern observer, who locates religion outside of secular and rational ‘modernity’: outside of relevance. And yet, emerging in the Middle Ages as a socio-political movement as well as a religious movement, the Franciscans can be seen as the engineers of the first alternative global discourse: critics of global capitalism even before capitalism was ‘global’. As Hans Baron eloquently wrote, ‘the Franciscan demand for evangelical poverty developed among the citizens into an early intellectual reaction against an age in process of becoming capitalist’. It is important not to dismiss the importance of Franciscan history, and the ideas developed by the Franciscans, as something relating only to the history of religion or the Middle Ages. Such dismissals contribute to the denial of coevaleness: the mechanism which enables the secularism (defined literarily as that which lasts over the centuries) of ‘modernity’. Pope Francis taps the alterity of the Franciscan perspective to call for an alternative global discourse which will facilitate an alternative global future.

In the Encyclical, Pope Francis argued that his namesake ‘helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human’. This statement taps into the core of Franciscan ideas, which developed in opposition to the rise of the money economy, the power of markets, and the discourse of capitalism. In the Middle Ages the Franciscans tried to realise an alternative relationship between man and the world that was not ruled by the paradigm of property. During this process they devised a discourse that was in opposition to the language of mathematics and the scientist metrics that came to underpin the ideology of finance. In the fourteenth century, one radical Spiritualist Franciscan, Angelo of Clareno, illustrated this by writing ‘can you measure the waters with your hand and heaven with your palm? Why then do you try to weigh and to hold within the grasp of your fingers the earth and the great elements which can be measured only by their maker? Know yourself first.’ The theological dimension of this message is clear, yet it also holds a broader epistemological point that encourages a questioning of the politics of the mechanisms and representations of global discourses today. It is a reminder of the need to accept the fallibility of the human condition and the limitations of the knowledge systems of science.

The prevalence of the scientific perspective as a method for understanding society, engineered in particular by the field of economics, contributes to the dominance of the ideology of capitalism. The language of mathematics becomes a mechanism for validating truth claims, for constructing a hegemonic perspective. Scanning the pages of The Economist, the Bible of the capitalist discourse, one gets a sense of the danger of reducing understanding to the language of mathematics. It creates models using metrics which can only lead to the positive reinforcement of the value system of capitalism, and it invents its findings as truth claims by performing results using the ‘empirically sound’ language of mathematics and using the aesthetics of graphs, spreadsheets and pie charts. An article published earlier this year asked ‘Is your degree worth it?’ , arguing that it is what you study not where you study, the article presented a graph showing that your degree is ‘worth it’ if you study engineering, computer science, or maths, rather than the arts or humanities because you will earn more. Arts and humanities degrees are designed to encourage critical thought and to promote a learning which enriches individuals and their ability to contribute to civic life and improve societies. The problem is that these ‘values’, to use a capitalistic metaphor, don’t lend themselves to a metric that can be mapped on a graph or permeate the public consciousness through media publications such as The Economist.

The recent papal Encyclical touches on this problem, arguing that part of the problem of today’s planet and its people comes from the dominance of one form of knowing and ‘developing’, which is itself appropriative. Pope Francis criticises the globalization of the technocratic paradigm, the way in which ‘humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object’, and describes this method as ‘already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation’. Similar criticisms of the way in which people were appropriating the planet, and scepticism concerning the role of knowledge, were first voiced by the Franciscans in the Middle Ages. Of course, the Franciscans were not opposed to science and the order produced many great scientists, but they also philosophically explore ways of knowing. Following ideas stemming from Franciscan history, Pope Francis argues that we need to escape ‘globalized logic’: that the battle for biodiversity is linked to intellectual diversity. Medieval history, and especially new forms of global intellectual history, can contribute to the programme to escape from ‘globalized logic’.

In Laudato Si Pope Francis uses the history of the Franciscan Order to illustrate how, if we are going to reshape the future of our shared global environment, we must transcend our utilitarian approach to nature and knowledge and think differently. We must maintain the diversity of our intellectual ecosystem. Most importantly in thinking differently we must focus on the experiences of the poor around the world, who are disproportionately affected by climate change. He wrote that ‘the poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled’. In the Encyclical, Pope Francis uses a Franciscan approach to outline the problems of the conjoined deterioration of the natural and human environment from the perspective of the experiences of the poor. The prevalence of poverty in our global landscape today calls for radical change, for human action that does not objectify poverty and for a new global discourse that escapes both an appropriative relationship with the world and a utilitarian approach to knowledge.


Michal OndercoOne needs only to look at the Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, recently completed in New York*, to see how far from one another are the Non-Aligned countries from Western countries when it comes to stemming nuclear proliferation. This is counterintuitive – the West and the NAM share their interest in stopping (and even back-rolling) the number of nuclear-weapon states. There is very little material motivation for the non-aligned for their position – most of them do not have any nuclear capacity to speak of, and could not even dream of developing any significant nuclear capacity. My research asks what else drives their nonproliferation policy.

Countries in the Global South, particularly the three large democracies – India, Brazil, and South Africa – have been strong opponents of nuclear weapon proliferation, though they existed outside of the formal structures of nuclear governance for an extended period of time. Such enthusiasm for the NPT and non-proliferation regime has been, however, contrasted with the almost opposite positions towards proposals coming from the West about how to stop nuclear weapons proliferation, as well as lukewarm attitude towards Iran’s nuclear program. To explain their nonproliferation policy, we need to understand the ideational sources of their nonproliferation policy. These sources, different in each case, provide a mindset through which state leaders interpret the complicated puzzles of world politics.

Why should we focus on ideas? Often, material incentives provide ambiguous motivations. Simply put, states can choose from multiple, equally possible, paths. Leaders’ ideational frameworks influence how they respond to these incentives. These ideational frameworks originate in an array of historical experiences, socialization, and self-perception. They are sometimes conflicting, and even contradictory. However, they have something in common – they allow leaders to solve complex policy puzzles in ways that “make sense”.

An explanation based on ideas does not exclude an explanation based on interests. Ideas shape how leaders see their states’ interests. I argue that ideas guiding policymakers are domestically grounded. In democratic countries, these ideas broadly reflect the ideas of a significant part of the population; otherwise leaders would not get elected. Unsurprisingly, such mind frames are different between Western countries and the countries of the Global South, but also amongst the countries of the Global South themselves. I study how such mind-frames affect foreign policy. For my research, I conducted over 80 top-level elite interviews on four continents, and read thousands of pages of newspaper articles and parliamentary speeches.

In the minds of South Africa’s leaders, world politics is where the oppressor tries to perpetuate supremacy over the oppressed. South African leaders see their world as a bulwark against such oppression; hence a nonproliferation policy is conceived to protect those whom South African leaders see as the most vulnerable – non-nuclear weapons states from the Global South, among them Iran. In India’s leaders’ minds, world politics is a place where India must find ways – however circuitous they need be – to ensure its domestic growth. In the case of the nonproliferation policy, this means fighting battles as if they were unrelated to one another, seeing each policy puzzle in a separate box. This leads to a sometimes incoherent policy, but always to a very timid one. For Brazil’s leaders, status is uber-important, and foreign policy is guided towards its attenuation. In the field of nonproliferation, this means tailoring the policy towards increasing Brazil’s standing in the world, but also explains the occasionally contradictory nature of such policy. These preferences affect very strongly how these countries prefer to see the shape of their nonproliferation policies.

These countries are not jackals preying on the system of global governance, in fact they have quite well mastered its language and can navigate the corridors of multilateral forums fluently. They are, however, not “middle powers”, as we know them from the past. They are not interested in being good international citizens, just for the sake of it. Despite being liberal democracies, these states do not see the ‘liberal peace’; they see the world primarily as a place for struggle. Their focus on state autonomy is aimed at increasing their own space for manoeuvre. This is where the scepticism for supranational solutions lies.

Part of the Western disillusion with these countries’ attitudes lies with misunderstanding how they see the world. Correctly understanding such worldviews will not only help Western diplomats understand why their counterparts are intransigent, but also help them avoid becoming willing (but unwitting) helpers in endeavours they may not like in the end.

The results of this research have been presented at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC; and at the United Nations in New York. “Iran's Nuclear Programme and the Global South”, a book based on this research, will soon be published by Palgrave.

*at the time of writing, the conference is still ongoing, and hence I cannot say whether it was completed successfully. You know it by now, dear reader.


Meha PriyadarshiniIf you had to think about what we do as academics, how we behave, dress, the way we present our material, both in person and on paper, could you think of certain trends and norms? The answer is most probably ‘yes.’ On May 27th we held an interdisciplinary workshop at the EUI to discuss our craft and our role as academics. We did so especially by focusing on the aesthetics of our practice, asking questions about how it is we fashion ourselves and our work as academics.

Marco Musillo from the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence started the day with a historical perspective on how scholars chose to be represented in Europe and China, starting as early as in the time of Machiavelli (1469-1527). The ensuing discussion dealt with the question of scholars’ engagement with society. To what extent does a scholar need to separate herself from the wider world to be able to produce intellectual work and at what point is she obligated to re-engage? We also asked whether, in contemporary society, an academic is different to an intellectual or scholar.

Having set up some of the themes for the day we moved on to a panel on how academics choose to express themselves. Max Weber Fellow Garvan Walshe (SPS) presented on the detrimental use of jargon by academics and Kristina Cufar, a researcher in the Law Department, asked whether we know who the imagined ‘reader’ is that we are writing for. For both papers the larger question was about the intended audience and how our practices of communication as academics have developed over the years.

The following panel dealt with normative practices in certain disciplines. Max Weber Fellow Antonio Marzal Yetano (LAW) focused on EU Law and explored whether the question of aesthetics could help legal scholars think about how EU Law is formulated. Julija Sardelic (SPS), Max Weber Fellow, analyzed the practices of scholars who write about Romani minorities and inadvertently aestheticize inequalities through their uncritical use of images. Both papers showed how the concept of aesthetics can be a useful tool for interrogating our professional work.

The final panel dealt with the self-fashioning of academics in India and France. Karni Pal Bhati, Associate Professor in English Literature at Furman University, U.S.A., studied Indian intellectuals’ attire to show that they often had to fashion dual identities, both a Western and an Indian one. Max Weber Fellow Thomas Raineau (HEC) investigated a series of academic textbooks created in France in the 1990s to reveal an attempt by French academia to present itself in a more personable manner. Both papers revealed how academics negotiate the boundaries between their public and private lives to fashion themselves as intellectuals.

The Aesthetics of Academic Practice is an ongoing project, for more information please consult or contact Meha Priyadarshini at


Annika WolfAs the delegate of an NGO I participated in the CSW at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA from 16 March to 20 March 2015. The conference brought together world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, researchers and young people to strategize and discuss how much – or how little – progress has been made since the first declaration on the status of women made in Beijing in 1995. Though I have visited the headquarters before, it was different to actually participate in a session and speak with women from around the world, to hear their views and listen to the experiences from their specific countries.

Most women in the Western, developed world enjoy full rights of citizenship, and discussion in recent times has been about getting more women into management positions and for equal compensation. Though I consider myself an educated and well-informed person, it is different to read a story in a paper and to hear it first-hand from someone who has experienced it. It is only on occasions like the CSW one realizes that equal access to education, maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights, and other basic liberties like marriage and a fair voting process are not enjoyed in many countries. For women around the world to be presented at the CSW means to be humanized, they have a representative speaking up for them. The delegates fight to bring about change for girls and women in their communities, in their countries and internationally. The conference offers the opportunity to build capacity, share solutions and forge partnerships, together creating coalitions, communication and actions that spark political commitment and investment in girls and women around the world.

The one person that struck me most with her speech in the opening session was Ms. Alaa Murabit, a 24 year old medical doctor from Libya. She was put on the Libyan regime’s “most wanted” list for providing health care and information to revolutionaries and survivors of sexual violence during the Libyan uprising. She founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW). Her speech addressed the issue of gender equality through both communication and education, and only with a dialogue not among women alone but together with men will the goal of gender equality be reached (unfortunately there were not many men present at the meeting). She is one of those young people that has the potential to be a powerful spokesperson for the needs of people, as well as an agent of change, transforming policies, programming, and society for the better – sometimes at the risk of her own life.

That the CSW is also part of a political arena became obvious when one representative from a large Asian country talked about gender equality and women’s rights in its country. For this country that has general issues with human rights, I find it striking how it points out the achievements it has made with women’s rights in recent years. Where does it draw the line between human rights and women’s rights? Some delegates also provoked criticism on the street when they were met by large black limousines, hiding their expensive clothes and jewelry from the view of the curious public. One may ask how this contributes to the underdeveloped and poor countries they are sent to represent.

Overall, being a delegate for this CSW was a valuable and worthwhile experience. It opened my eyes to the achievements that have been made in the last 20 years, since the Beijing meeting, and the numerous aims that still lie ahead of us to achieve an equal status for women in the world – and for all human beings for that matter.



The call for 50-60 Max Weber Post-doctoral Fellowships is Applications are now open for the Max Weber Programme at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy. Amongst the largest, most prestigious and successful post doctoral programmes in the historical and social sciences, and located in one of the most beautiful settings, with truly outstanding research facilities, we offer from 50-60 fully funded 1 and 2 year post doctoral fellowships to applicants from anywhere in the world in the fields of economics, history, law and social and political sciences. All areas and types of research within these fields are considered. Last year 98% of Fellows found an academic position on completing the Fellowship. To find out more about the programme and how to apply, go to:
Why Apply to the Max Weber Programme
How to Apply for a Max Weber Fellowship


Incoming MW FellowsThe Max Weber Programme is proud to announce the list of incoming MW Fellows for the academic year 2015-2016. Confirming the upward trend of the Programme next year there will be 60 MW Fellows sharing and enriching the academic life of the European University Institute. They come from 24 different countries in 5 continents: The Max Weber Programme is indeed of global appeal.

See who they are on the MWP website


Thematic Research Groups 2015-2016For the second year running the Max Weber Programme is organizing the core of its multidisciplinary research around Thematic Research Groups.

Read about them on the MWP website


MW Lectures 2015-2016Still delighted by the success of this year’s Max Weber Lectures the Programme is proud to announce the lecturers for the academic year 2015-2016:

  • 21 October 2015
    Martin Weizman, Harvard University
    Thematic Research Group: FSR climate (RSC)
  • 25 November 2015
    Silvana Patriarca, Fordham University
    Thematic Research Group: tba
  • 9 December 2015
    Peter Katzenstein, Cornell University
    Thematic Research Group: Europe in the World: Foreign Relations, International Security, World Politics
  • 20 January 2016
    Daniel Cohen, Paris School of Economics
    Thematic Research Group: Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa: The Design and Governance of Monetary and Fiscal Policies and Financial Regulation in the European Union
  • 17 February 2016
    Alison Bashford, University of Cambridge
    Thematic Research Group: GRaSE (in conjunction with RSCAS and HEC)
  • 16 March 2016
    Reva Siegel, Yale University
    Thematic research Group: Law, Governance, Constitutionalism and Democracy
  • 20 April 2016
    Maristella Botticini, Bocconi University
    Thematic Research Group: Inequality and Efficiency in Education and the Labour Market
  • 18 May 2016
    Philip N. Pettit
    , Princeton University
    Thematic Research Group: Governance, Constitutionalism and Democracy (sub-group 1)
  • 15 June 2016
    Rogers Brubaker, University of California (UCLA)
    Thematic research Group: Citizenship and Migration


New Interviews on Job Market Experiences

ACO has recently updated its testimonials given by former Max Weber Fellows on their job market experience. These testimonials cut across all four disciplines, Law, Economics, History and Social and Political Science, and document experiences of the job market in countries such as Italy, Greece, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria and the United States. These testimonials might be interesting for those of you who are just out of the job market so as to compare this with your own experience, but they are also a precious source of information for all those of you who will be on the job market next Fall. They give you a great opportunity to prepare for the job market by reading about different experiences and Fellows’ tips on how to best prepare your application, do a job talk or negotiate the conditions of your new job!

Here is, for example, one of the Fellow’s views on the job market in Law:

“The first thing is that you need to decide where you want to live and to apply. The US and Europe are completely different, particularly in terms of publications. If you target a market like the Italian, Spanish, French, or German, establish and maintain a relationship with the existing academic environment. Be involved in the research networks and national associations to show your commitment to the academic community, and try to publish in the respective language. In terms of interviews, study the place as well as the positions which they are opening. For example, see if they want someone similar to whoever they had selected in the past or want to change the profile of the position. Look a bit at the audience in terms of the students that the university has. Many universities in Italy want to be ranked in international university rankings, so they are interested in someone who can strengthen the international side of that university in terms of connections with other universities, as there is now an interest in creating double-degree programmes. So I see a general trend here in terms of university internationalization, yet it is important to target the specific position.”

Read more: Career Tips


MW Fellows Interviews with MW LecturersThis year the nine MW Lecturers have been interviewed by MW Fellows about their career paths, their academic passions and their points of view on topical issues.

Watch the interviews on line on the MW YouTube Channel.


Calendar First TermThe provisional Calendar of MWP Activities for the first term 2015-2016 is available on line.

And so is the Academic Calendar 2015-2016.


The Spirit of Capitalism and the Coppa PavoneThe Max Weber Programme was valiantly represented in the Coppa Pavone 2015 by a new team aptly named “The Spirit of Capitalism”. With two matches won and two lost they were a shining example of fair play.

See the results


MWP on Social MediaThe Max Weber Programme had a successful year on Social Media. Our Facebook page more than doubled its likes since last year and reached a whopping 1,787 likes (on 22.6.2015). Thank you ‘likers’ and keep up the momentum!
Our brand new Twitter account (@maxweberprogram) opened in January and in just a few months reached 363 followers (on 26 June 2015). A big thank you to all our followers and let’s keep growing!

Finally we opened a Flickr page to share our pictures with our wider community. Enjoy them!


Past Events

Lucia Zedner18 March 2015


Recent estimates suggest that more than 3,000 Europeans have travelled to Syria to fight for the ‘Islamic State’ (IS). UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has argued ‘It is not only the full force of the law that these people should face … when they take up arms in this way in another country, they become enemies of the state.’ In accordance with this view, current counterterrorism policy seeks to curb the citizenship and mobility rights of those suspected of involvement in terrorism. Exclusion orders, flight bans, passport seizure, and forcible relocation are defended as essential to national security. For some, citizenship appears no longer as a right but conditional upon conduct or a privilege to be diminished or denied. This paper examines these developments and considers the risks to justice, to human rights, and, not least, to security, when citizenship-stripping is used as a tool of counterterrorism. In so doing, it asks what does the duty of the state to protect its people permit?

Watch the Lecture on YouTube


Gráinne de Búrca22 April 2015

International human rights regimes – the array of UN human rights treaties and their monitoring mechanisms – have come under attack in recent years from all sides. Eric Posner says bluntly that ‘[h]uman rights law has failed … and it ought to be abandoned.’

Samuel Moyn has advanced a range of critiques, mostly premised on the argument that the regimes have been singularly ineffective, and are doomed to extinction before long. Even their defenders acknowledge that UN human rights regimes are poorly equipped to handle many of the challenges that confront them. They are inadequately resourced, lack expertise, and governments ignore their recommendations. One consistent theme of the many criticisms is that the treaty body regimes have failed because they operate in a determinedly top-down manner. In Posner’s words: ‘the human rights movement shares in common with the hubris of development economics the attempt of western institutions to impose top-down solutions on developing countries’.

This lecture suggests a very different reading. Applying an experimentalist perspective, and drawing on evidence from the actual practice of the UN treaty regimes, I argue that the system is much more dynamic and multi-faceted than its detractors (and often also its defenders) suggest and that, in particular, one of the great strengths of the human rights treaty regimes is precisely that they operate in ways that are not at all top-down.

By mobilizing multiple actors and bodies at different levels – local, national, regional and transnational, governmental and non-governmental – to give meaning and content to their norms, these multi-level interactive regimes quite often succeed in placing neglected issues on the agenda, and in proposing and devising ways of addressing serious social wrongs.

Watch the Lecture on YouTube


Quentin Skinner20 May 2015


Nowadays when we speak about the state we generally use the term simply to refer to an apparatus of power. As a result – at least in Anglophone political theory – ‘state’ and ‘government’ have become virtually synonymous terms. My lecture begins by tracing the emergence in modern western political theory of the strongly contrasting view that the state is the name of a distinct Person. Thomas Hobbes is taken to be the leading contributor to this development, and in the central section of my lecture I analyse his understanding of the state as a ‘person by fiction’. My lecture ends by attempting an assessment of the idea of state personality. Has anything of significance been lost as a result of the abandonment of the belief, central to so much early-modern and Enlightenment discourse, that the state is the name of a moral Person distinct from both government and the governed?

Watch the Lecture on YouTube


Wendy Carlin17 June 2015


Economists frequently assume that deeper economic integration promotes the convergence of economic regions or countries. To address the connection between institutions, markets and economic development, I begin with the thesis that within an integrated area, two ‘institutions-culture’ conventions can co-exist.

Deeper integration can raise the costs of exiting the weaker ‘Southern’ convention because the South benefits from gains from trade. The second thesis is that more integration brings economic advantages but it does not necessarily bring with it the reform of the underlying convention.

The gains from trade mean the South specializes more in activities that reinforce its inferior convention. The third thesis is that strong institutions are the precondition for long term convergence and facilitate adjustment to shocks.

To illustrate these theses, I use evidence from post-unification Italy, post re-unification Germany and from the economic integration of the Eurozone.

Watch the Lecture on YouTube


John McCormick

16 March 2015


In this talk, I hope to demonstrate that the specific details of Machiavelli’s historical account of the respective actions of the Florentine people and nobles within the Histories decisively undermine any general, evaluative statements on Machiavelli’s part that overtly criticize the people and that signal a newfound sympathy for the nobles.

I suggest, therefore, that proponents of the ‘late-conservative Machiavelli’ thesis err when they rely overwhelmingly on the latter to the utter neglect of the former in their analyses of the Histories. They consistently ignore the blatant discontinuity between: on the one hand, Machiavelli’s demonstration of how peoples and nobles behave throughout the book, and, on the other, what he says about the behaviour of these respective groups in the work.

I will argue that the former contravene the latter, and that the literary-rhetorical method deployed by Machiavelli in the Histories – a mode of writing through which, even more so than in The Prince and the Discourses, deeds trump words – serves to substantially reinforce, rather than in any way undermine, Machiavelli’s previously expressed democratic republicanism in his later, seemingly more conservative, political writings.

About the Speaker:

John P. McCormick is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He has been a Fulbright Scholar at Bremen University, Germany (1994-95); a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy (1995-96); a Radcliffe Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2008-09); and a Residence Fellow at the Rockefeller Center, Bellagio, Italy (April 2013).

Prof. McCormick is the author of Machiavellian Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2011); Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology (Cambridge University Press, 1997); and Weber, Habermas and Transformations of the European State: Constitutional, Social and Supranational Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

He is presently working on a book titled, The Peoples Princes: Machiavelli, Leadership and Liberty.


Cecile Laborde23 April 2015


In this talk, I ask whether liberal legitimacy requires secularism – or separation between state and religion –, and which. I argue that the best way to answer this question is to ‘disaggregate’ religion into four constituent elements; and I argue that the liberal state is secular in four distinct senses. The aim is to identify a universal minimal secularism, one not tied to a particular western history of secularization, yet one that meets basic liberal democratic desiderata.

About the Speaker:

Cécile Laborde is Professor of Political Theory at University College London and a Fellow of the British Academy. She has held visiting positions in Paris and Princeton. She has published extensively in the areas of republicanism and toleration, theories of law and the state, and global justice. She has published four books and has written articles in major journals of political science and political theory.

Her last book is Critical Republicanism. The Hijab Controversy in Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press 2008). In 2011, Laborde was awarded an ERC grant for a 5-year project on ‘Is Religion Special?’. She is the Director of UCL’s Religion and Political Theory Centre. She is currently writing a book for Harvard University Press, entitled Liberalism’s Religion.


Agata Bielik-Robson

Jointly organized with the project ReligioWest

14 May 2015


The aim of this lecture is to give a general and accessible overview of the so-called ‘post-secular’ turn in contemporary humanities.

The main idea behind the post-secular turn is that it constitutes an answer to the crisis of secular grand narratives of modernity: in Rosenzweig’s case – the Hegelian narrative of the immanent progress of the Spirit; and in the case of Adorno, Horkheimer, and Habermas (all representatives of the Frankfurt School) – the Enlightenment narrative of universal emancipation. All these thinkers want to rethink the place of religion in the seemingly secularized modern paradigm and see if revelation can cooperate with Enlightenment, i.e. whether it can support Enlightenment values in times of their ‘crisis of legitimacy.’

But this is not the only meaning of late-modern post-secularism. A parallel interpretation, coined more or less at the same time as Habermas, by John Milbank and his pupils, Philip Blond and Conor Cunningham, insists on the return of theology in the hard-core version of Radical Orthodoxy. Radical Orthodoxy’s merit lies in gathering all theologico-conservative critiques of modern nihilism under the one heading of the post-secular reconquest of the West in the name of tradition.

And, finally, the third use of religious terminology today: this time in favour of the revolution. This variant of the post-secular debate, which revolves mostly around the ‘revolutionary figure’ of Saint Paul (Taubes, Agamben, Badiou, Zizek), constitutes a radically left answer to the crisis of Marxism as the allegedly scientific insight into the objective laws of history.

Despite irreconcilable differences between these three options, there is also a clear sense of affinity: in all three cases, religion is recollected in order to counteract the detrimental tendency, characteristic of a purely secular modernity, to reduce human existence to a monotonous quasi-natural cycle of life and death in which radically new political decisions either count for nothing or simply become impossible. But the post-secular use of religion may also be accused of such reductive instrumentality itself, summoning elements of transcendent faith merely in order to change the immanent conditions of our social life. It will also be my aim to assess this objection and see if such a pragmatic use of transcendence for the sake of immanence, which post-secular thought advocates, can be justified from the theological point of view.

About the speaker:

Agata Bielik-Robson is a Professor of Jewish Studies at The University of Nottingham and a Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences. She specializes in all areas of Jewish philosophy with special emphasis paid to modern Jewish thought, from Spinoza to Derrida. Her field of expertise is also contemporary philosophy, particularly when in a dialogue (or polemic) with theology.

Prof. Bielik-Robson's newest book Jewish Cryptotheologies of Late Modernity: Philosophical Marranos was published in 2014 by Routledge.


David ArmitageJointly organized with HEC

21 May 2015


This paper critically examines the ‘globalization’ of civil war in three distinct, but overlapping, ways. First, civil wars became global phenomena, seemingly distributed across all parts of the world and then gradually coming to supplant international or inter-state wars as the most characteristic form of large-scale organized violence around the globe. Second, and closely related to the first, civil war was increasingly brought under the jurisdiction of international and global institutions, especially international humanitarian law. And third, the communities within which civil wars were imagined as taking place became ever wider and more capacious, expanding from ‘European civil war’ to various conceptions of ìglobal civil war’ early in the twentieth century.

About the speaker:

David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair (2012-14, 2015-16) of the Department of History at Harvard University, where he teaches international history and intellectual history.

He is an Affiliated Professor in the Harvard Government Department and at Harvard Law School and is also an Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney.

Among his fifteen books are The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2000), The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Harvard University Press, 2007), (co-ed.) The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760-1840 (2010) (Palgrave, 2010), Foundations of Modern International Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2013), (co-auth.) The History Manifesto (Cambridge University press, 2014), (co-ed.) Pacific Histories: Ocean, Land, People (Palgrave, 2014).

His next book Civil War: A History in Ideas is forthcoming in 2016 from Alfred A. Knopf.


Fred Cooper

Tuesday 9 June 2015

A round table discussion organized within the framework of the Max Weber theme group on Citizenship and Migration


As the French public debates its present diversity and its colonial past, few remember that between 1946 and 1960 the inhabitants of French colonies possessed the rights of French citizens. Moreover, they did not have to conform to the French civil code that regulated marriage and inheritance. One could, in principle, be a citizen and different too.

‘Citizenship Between Empire and Nation’ examines momentous changes in notions of citizenship, sovereignty, nation, state and empire in a time of uncertainty about the future of a world that had earlier been divided into colonial empires.


Urban Politics, Migration, Diversity24 April 2015


Cities are hubs in global migration patterns and arguably the place where the most mobile populations meet the least mobile.

This graduate workshop aims to bring together researchers who are working on issues linked to the city, to migration or both.

The focus of the workshop will be on issues relating to urban diversity. Understanding urban migration driven diversity calls for a dynamic analysis of the issues involved. While some headway has been made with a recent diversity turn in the migration literature there is ample room to further our understanding of the migration-city nexus.

Particularly we face some conceptual and empirical hurdles in starting to think about urban politics in more complex ways.

Keynote speaker: Fran Tonkiss (London School of Economics, Director of the Cities Programme)
Organizer: Fran Meissner (SPS)

Programme (PDF)
Poster (PDF)


Constitutions: How They Change and Evolve through Institutional Practice

8 May 2015


What role do Constitutions play in national and supranational polities? How do they evolve over time? This workshop aims to discuss issues like the legitimacy of constitutional amendments and their limits, the actors who drive constitutional change, the constitutional nature of conventions, the relationship between politics and Constitutions and the actual functioning of institutions despite formal rules, within a comparative and EU perspective.

Speakers: Richard Albert (Boston College Law School) and former MW Fellow Thomas Beukers (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and EUI Law Department)
Organizer: Cristina Fasone (LAW)

Programme (PDF)


The Politics of Law and Behavioural Sciences. Historical Contexts and Conceptual Sources13 May 2015


The aim of this workshop is to study the relationship between legal norms and the laws of nature. Intellectual historians, lawyers, legal historians, philosophers and political theorists will look at the historical and contemporary dimensions of this relationship.

Today 'behavioural regularities', mainly based on the 'discoveries' of the cognitive sciences, loom large in both policy- and lawmaking. They lend legitimacy to legislation and serve as a conceptual resource that permits governments to fine-tune their policing of society by adjusting it to citizens' ostensible behavioural patterns and routines.

The contributions to our workshop will retrieve the recurrent tropes, schemes, and modes employed in the modeling of the relationship between law and the study of nature since early modern times. This historical reconstruction of the ties between legal norms and the laws of nature will enable us to view afresh the contemporary dilemmas caused by the reliance on cognitive and behavioural studies.

Organizers: MW Fellows Magdalena Malecka (LAW) and Franz Leander Fillafer (HEC)

Programme (PDF)


The Aesthetics of Academic Practice

27 May 2015


In this workshop we will investigate the many ways in which aesthetics are important to us in our work and in the way we fashion ourselves as academics, both at the individual and institutional levels. The goal of the workshop is to use the idea of aesthetics as a means to question what it is we do in society as academics and as academic institutions. We also want to historicize the aesthetic norms that have become entrenched in our practice and question their validity.

Programme (PDF)

The Aesthetic of Academic Practice Blog

Organizer: Meha Pryiadarshini (HEC)


The Future of Basic Income Research26-27 June 2015


The past three decades have seen the elaboration of a vast body of literature on universal basic income – a policy proposal Philippe Van Parijs referred to as a ‘disarmingly simple idea’. It consists of a monthly cash allowance given to all citizens, regardless of personal desert and without means-test. Basic income studies are an example of successful interdisciplinary research, involving philosophers, political scientists, economists and sociologists, among many others. Basic income proponents have identified, evaluated and deconstructed many potential and actual objections against this radical proposal.

The one day conference on 26th June is the result of a competitive call for abstracts that yielded twenty-two new contributions to discuss the philosophical, economic and political aspects of the basic income proposals. By pulling together academics, activists and critics, we aim to identify what should be on the agenda for the future of Basic Income research.

On 27th June the conference will be complemented by a workshop discussing the new book on basic income by Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght (under contract with Harvard University Press).

The event is generously sponsored by a Young Scholar Event Grant of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), as well as by the Max Weber Programme at the EUI, The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and Prof. Rainer Baubock (SPS), Prof. Arpad Abraham (ECO), Prof. Fabrizio Bernardi (SPS), Prof. Hans W. Micklitz (LAW) and Prof. Robert Hoekman (RSC).

Organizers: Juliana Bidadanure (SPS), Robert Lepenies (LAW)

Workshop Blog


Moving beyond the Crisis

16th April 2015


The EUI’s Max Weber Programme and James Madison University’s M.A. Program in European Union Policy Studies are pleased to announce the 8th Joint Graduate Symposium.

The symposium gives JMU’s MA students in European Union Policy Studies an opportunity to present and discuss their own research with Max Weber Fellows and the wider EUI community in an academic setting. While the European Union is gradually moving beyond the crisis, symposium papers discuss current policy challenges that lie ahead, such as: energy security, migration and asylum, counter-terrorism action, youth unemployment, EU enlargement, etc.

Conference Programme (PDF)

Organizers: Eileen Keller (SPS) and Julija Sardelic (SPS)


Max Weber Fellows June Conference

10-12 June 2015

The annual June Conference of the Max Weber Programme is a forum where the research of current Max Weber Fellows (MWFs) is brought together with recent work done by former MWFs. The conference is meant to provide an interdisciplinary perspective on economic, historical, legal, political and social debates in research and academia. Furthermore, it is a forum to foster inter-cohort academic collaboration and cross-institutional exchange. Hence, the 2015 June Conference will host current and former MWFs, as well as early-career postdocs (within five years of obtaining their PhDs) who currently hold Jean Monnet Fellowships (EUI) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie grants.

One of the bedrocks of the Social Issues for Social Science conference is its cross-disciplinarity. During the 2014/15 academic year, the Max Weber Fellows have been exchanging ideas in the context of seven thematic groups, each of which will be represented by a section at the June conference. The 9th June Conference will host a series of session looking at the topics listed below from an economic, historical, political, sociological or legal perspective:

Topic 1: Current challenges in the design, regulation and governance of fiscal, monetary and financial policies: causes, cures and consequences
Topic 2: Migration and citizenship: gaps between governance and practice
Topic 3: Past and present democratic challenges and institutional change in the EU
Topic 4: Knowledge, authority and freedom
Topic 5: Determinants and consequences of inequality
Topic 6: Globalization and the nation-state
Topic 7: Rationality and decision making

Conference Programme
Conference Timetable

Conference Pictures



We are glad to receive and announce former and current MW Fellows’ publications. Due to restricted space this is but a selection of publications received in the last few months.

  • L’Orient à Vienne au dix-huitième siècleDavid Do Paço (HEC 2013-2015), L’Orient à Vienne au dix-huitième siècle, Foundation Voltaire, Oxford 2015
  • Cristina Fasone (LAW 2013-2015), with Nicola Lupo, ‘Transparency vs. Informality in Legislative Committees: Comparing the US House of Representatives, the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the European Parliament’, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 14 January 2015, pp. 1-18:
  • Daniel Hershenzon (HEC 2011-2012) ‘”[P]ara que me saque cabesa por cabesa…”: Exchanging Muslim and Christian Slaves across the Mediterranean,’ African Economic History, 42 (2014): 11-36.
  • Daniel Hershenzon ‘Traveling Libraries: the Arabic Manuscripts of Muley Zidan and the Escorial Library,’ Journal of Early Modern History, 18 (2014): 535-558.
  • Rasmus Hoffmann (SPS 2008-2009), forthcoming, with Terje A. Eikemo, Ivana Kulhánová, Margarete C. Kulik, Caspar Looman, Gwenn Menvielle, Patrick Deboosere, Pekka Martikainen, Enrique Regidor, Johan P. Mackenbach, ‘Obesity and the potential reduction of social inequalities in mortality: evidence from 21 European populations’, the European Journal of Public Health.
  • The New Governance of Welfare States in the United States and EuropeMariely Lopez-Santana (SPS 2006-2007): The New Governance of Welfare States in the United States and Europe: Between Decentralization and Centralization in the Activation Era, SUNY Press, 2015
  • The New Governance of Welfare States in the United States and EuropeMichal Onderco (SPS 2014-2015), Iran's Nuclear Program and the Global South: The Foreign Policy of India, Brazil, and South Africa London: Palgrave 2015
  • Michal Onderco ‘Money can’t buy you love. EU member states and the Iranian nuclear program 2002-2009’. European Security. 24(1), 56-76.
  • Michal Onderco (forthcoming) ‘The provision of private goods and the emergence of armed rebellion: The case of the Slovak National Uprising 1944-1945’, Journal of International Relations and Development
  • The Routledge Handbook of Comparative Political InstitutionsRuben Ruiz Rufino (SPS 2007-2008), (with Jennifer Gandhi), 2015. The Routledge Handbook of Comparative Political Institutions: Routledge.
  • Julija Sardelic (SPS 2014-2016). Romani Minorities and Uneven Citizenship Access in the Post-Yugoslav Space. Ethnopolitics: Vol. 14, pp. 159-179 (2015)
  • Eugenia Vella (ECO 2013-2014), ‘Fiscal Consolidation with Tax Evasion and Corruption’ (with E. Pappa and R. Sajedi), forthcoming in the Journal of International Economics.
  • Obsoleszenz interdisziplinär. Vorzeitiger Verschleiß aus Sicht von Wissenschaft und PraxisAndrea Wechsler (LAW 2011-2012), with Tobias Brönneke, Obsoleszenz interdisziplinär. Vorzeitiger Verschleiß aus Sicht von Wissenschaft und Praxis (An interdisciplinary perspective of obsolescence. Planned obsolescence in the light of theory and practice), Nomos Verlag, April 2015
  • Mohamed Ali AdraouiMohamed Ali Adraoui (SPS 2013-2015) in 2015-2016 will be Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore
  • Mark BerensonGeorgiana Denisa Banulescu (ECO 2014-2015), Maitre de Conférences, University of Orléans, France
  • Juliana BidadanureJuliana Bidadanure (SPS 2014-2015), has been appointed as Acting Assistant Professor at Stanford University starting in September 2015. She will be based in the Philosophy department with an affiliation to the Center for Ethics in Society. On September 2016, Juliana will take up the position of Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in the Philosophy department
  • Ylenia BrilliYlenia Brilli (ECO 2013-2015), 4 years postdoc position in Health Economics, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg
  • Nai Rui ChngDavid Do Paço (HEC 2013-2015) as of September 2015 has been appointed to a research and teaching position at Science Po, Paris
  • Franziska ExelerMartin Dumav (ECO 2013-2015), is moving to a position of Assistant Professor, University Carlos III, Madrid
  • Elaine FaheyElaine Fahey (LAW 2009-2010) took up the position of Senior Lecturer in Law at City Law School, City University London from September 2014
  • Cristina FasoneCristina Fasone (LAW 2013-2015), as of September 2015 will be Assistant Professor of Comparative Public Law at LUISS Guido Carli University, Department of Political Science
  • Tina FreyburgTina Freyburg (SPS 2011-2012) on August 1st will start as professor of comparative politics at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland
  • Diana GeorgescuDiana Georgescu (HEC 2014-2015), as of Autumn 2015 will be a Lecturer in Transnational and Comparative Southeast European Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London
  • Lukas HaffertLukas Haffert (SPS 2014-2015) is moving to a position of Senior Research Assistant, University of Zurich, Switzerland in the Autumn 2015
  • Pablo KalmanovitzPablo Kalmanovitz (LAW 2013-2015), is moving to a position of Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá
  • Eileen KellerEileen Keller (SPS 2014-2015) took up a position as Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (research associate) at the Deutsch-Französisches Institut (DFI) in Ludwigsburg, Germany (Franco-German Institute)
  • Stéphanie NovakZoe Lefkofridi (SPS 2013-2015) will be Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at the Dept. of Political Science, University of Salzburg
  • Ignacio de la Rasilla del MoralMichael Kozakowski (HEC 2014-2015) will be joining the History Department of the University of Colorado-Denver in the Autumn as an Instructor
  • Magdalena MaleckaMagdalena Malecka (LAW 2013-2015) took up in the Spring a postdoctoral fellowship at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (TINT) in Helsinki
  • Antonio Marzal YetanoAntonio Marzal Yetano (LAW 2014-2015), in September 2015 will took up a position as Maître de conférences (Lecturer in Law) at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Julia McClureJulia McClure (HEC 2014-2015) will commence a three-year lecturship in Global History at the University of Warwick (UK) in October
  • Federica RomeiFederica Romei (ECO 2014-2015), Assistant Professor, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
  • Martijn SchoonveldeMartijn Schoonvelde (SPS 2014-2015) will work on a 3-year postdoctoral research position at the VU (Vrije Universiteit) Amsterdam on a Horizon-2020 funded program “EUENGAGE”
  • Megan AndrewMegan Andrew (SPS 2014-2015), has been awarded a Spencer Foundation grant and the WT Grant Foundation for a total of $621,000. These grants will be used to collect and analyze primary data on peer networks and influence in middle school students’ educational decision making.
  • Philipp AyoubPhilip Ayoub (SPS 2013-2014) won this year the European Union Studies Association's 2013-2014 Award for Best Dissertation. The dissertation received three awards in 2014: the American Political Science Association’s Human Rights Section award for Best Dissertation; the American Political Science Association’s Sexuality and Politics Section award for Best Dissertation; the Janice N. and Milton J. Esman Graduate Prize for distinguished scholarship, from Cornell University.
  • David Do PacoDavid Do Paco (HEC 2013-2015) has been awarded the Core junior fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at CEU.
  • Arthur DyevreArthur Dyevre (LAW 2007-2008) was awarded in 2014 an ERC Starting Grant for the Project “Conflict and Cooperation in the EU Heterarchical Legal System” (EUTHORITY)
  • Lukas HaffertLukas Haffert (SPS 2014-2015) has been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal for his doctoral dissertation on Growing Capacity or Shrinking Ambition? The Political Economcy of Budget Surpluses’
  • Lukas HaffertMagdalena Malecka (LAW 2013-2015) has been awarded a scholarship by the Kosciuszko Foundation. The scholarship will finance her stay at Columbia University (Department of Philosophy) in the Autumn 2015.
  • Kristin SurakKristin Surak (SPS 2010-2011) has been awarded a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where she will be a member from 2015-16 while working on a large project comparing temporary labour migration programmes in six world regions.

The MWP Newsletter is a platform for current and former Fellows to share their news and short articles about their academic experience. Please send them to