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Power and Domination

As the high tide of Rawlsianism recedes, political theorists and philosophers are devoting renewed attention to a number of concepts that had been central to classical social theory but largely submerged during Rawls’s ascendance in political philosophy. New works on domination,social structures, and power have proliferated. In particular, the relational egalitarianism pioneered by Elizabeth Anderson and the neo-republicanism favoured by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner have aspired to reorient the focus of political theory away from the distribution of goods and towards social structures constituted by hierarchical relations of social power amongst individuals, whether relations of oppression (emphasized by relational egalitarians) or of domination (the central issue for neo-republicans). Our international research workshop will highlight new and ongoing work that both analyzes these key concepts and undertakes substantive inquiry into the scope and dynamics of structures of social power and domination.

The workshop will occur over three days. Day one will be a workshop on Arash Abizadeh’s manuscript on Power, Subjection, and Democracy, elements of which have appeared in recent articles on social power. Day two will focus on William Clare Roberts’s book manuscript, A Radical Politics of Freedom: Domination, Ideology, and Self-Emancipation. On day three, participants will present papers on key questions and concepts; these will be short and pointed interventions clarifying the stakes of competing definitions of power and domination and the implications of focusing our political theorizing on these concepts.


To maximize the quality of discussion, participants will have read the manuscripts and papers beforehand. The manuscript days each comprise three sessions dedicated to the manuscript. Each session will begin with brief critiques of chapters of the manuscript, followed by a brief response by the author and general discussion.

Presenters Arash Abizadeh (McGill), Amanda Greene (UC-SB), Alex Gourevitch (Brown), Mara Marin (Victoria), Sean Ingham (UC-SD), Niko Kolodny (UC-Berkeley), Will Roberts (McGill), William Paris (Toronto), Victoria Wills (George Washington).

An event co-organized by Arash Abizadeh (McGill U.) and Will Clare Roberts (McGill U.) for the Research Group on Constitutional Studies (RGCS) of the Yan P. Lin Centre, the Groupe de recherche interuniversitaire en philosophie politique de Montréal (GRIPP), and the Centre de recherche en éthique (CRÉ).

A call for registration will be forthcoming.