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Intercultural Political Theory, Globalization, and Democratic Agency

Intercultural Political Theory, Globalization, and Democratic Agency
15 Devonshire Place, Room 200
Time: Jan 16th, 3:00 pm End: Jan 16th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: United States Studies, Sociology (FAS), Religion, Study of (FAS), Political Science, Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (FAS), Information, Faculty of, Ethics, Diaspora/Transnational, Critical Theory, Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (UTM), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
Lecture by Melissa Williams, Political Science, University of Toronto

The Centre for Ethics Seminar Series is pleased to present:

Melissa Williams, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Intercultural Political Theory, Globalization, and Democratic Agency

Monday, January 16, 2012
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Room 200, Centre for Ethics, Larkin Building, 15 Devonshire Place
The event is free & open to the public.
This paper argues that there is an internal link between three things: globalization, the future of democracy, and the academic field of comparative or intercultural political theory. These themes are linked through the idea that addressing the human-scale problems characteristic of intensive processes of globalization can take a genuinely democratic form only under conditions where it is possible for citizens around the world to form shared political imaginaries in which they see themselves not only as connected to one another but also as possessing the ethical responsibility and the agent-capacity to render these processes responsive to those whom they affect. Since the formation of imagined communities of shared fate is linguistically mediated, people who seek to assert democratic agency over global problems need ideational resources that resonate with locally embedded understandings of ethics and politics in order for mutual interdependence and affectedness to generate ways to “imagine the world differently” (to borrow the slogan of the World Social Forum). We highlight the contributions of comparative political theory to the common pool of ideational resources from which political actors can draw in discovering the languages through which to construct new, democracy-enabling, political imaginaries. Drawing on theoretical accounts of the pragmatics of language use, we have suggested that comparative political theory can help to render articulate and explicit an array of ideas about politics which, when taken up by political actors, can help to motivate citizens to take responsibility for rendering the processes of globalization more responsive to demands for democratic accountability. Finally, we argue that advancing work in comparative political theory is an institutional as well as an intellectual challenge, and describe one collaborative project animated by this supposition.

The Centre for Ethics Seminar Series includes:


  • 16 January: Melissa Williams, "Intercultural Political Theory, Globalization, and Democratic Agency"
  • 30 January: Philip Clark, "Velleman's Constructivism"
  • 13 February: Sophia Reibetanz Moreau, "A Pluralist Theory of Equality Rights"
  • 19 March: Allen Wood, "Leaving Consequentialism Behind"

Download series flyer [pdf]

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