The year 2017 for Political Theory – University of Copenhagen

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25 January 2018

The year 2017 for Political Theory


For the Political Theory group, 2017 was another busy year. Among the many activities were international conferences, publications and a book on compromise. 

Along the way, the group was joined by PhD-fellow Mads Ejsing whose project will look into the crisis of liberal democracies and the potential of radical democracy. The group said goodbye to Theresa Scavenius who had done valuable work on the Compromise-project. And Political Theory got a new professor in Lars Tønder. 

Listed below are some of the highlights of the year 2017.

Research output

Anders Berg-Sørensen was present at the Compromise & Representation-conference, hosted by the Compromise-project. Here he presented the paper Trust, Truth and the Cultural Politics of Lutheran Nationalism: A Contested Politics of Remembrance. He also talked about the role of religion in Danish society at a conference in the Danish parliament Folketinget. Berg-Sørensen published several articles, among them 'Submission': Ambiguity, hypocrisy and misanthropy in Michel Houellebecq's imaginary politics in Journal of Political Ideologies.

Postdoc Malte Frøslee Ibsen contributed a number of op-eds in Danish newspaper Information, building on his research in democratic legitimacy in Europe. The bylines mainly analyzed European politics like the French and German elections, but also discussed issues on American politics. Ibsen was also featured in Danish radio show Pakzads Polemik where he discussed the future of the Danish left-wing.

Uffe Jakobsen was active with several publications on the Arctic. In Politics of sustainability in the Arctic - a research agenda, he and two co-writers discussed the meaning of sustainability in the Arctic, taking into account the ecosphere as well as Greenlandic ambitions for postcoloniality. The book chapter appears in the book Northern sustainabilities: Understanding and adressing change in the circumpolar world, published on Springer. 

Christiane Mossin continued her work as postdoctoral researcher. Her work concerns the relationship between civil society and democracy. The aim is to discuss and evaluate the possibility of a (re)vitalization of the democratic potentials of civil society and her work is part of the project Civil Society in the Shadow of the State (Cistas), financed by the Carlsberg Foundation and the Danish Ministry of Culture. 

PhD-fellow Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen contributed as an editor to Slagmarks edition on the Russian Revolution, as 2017 marked its 100-year anniversary. Benjamin paid a visit to radio show Pakzads Polemik where he discussed the Russian Revolution. He also contributed a book chapter on the council democracy tradition. Benjamin’s PhD-project is concerned with the same topic, as it looks at council democracy in interwar Europe.

Ditte Maria Brasso Sørensen continued the work on her PhD-thesis on European democracy and populism. She was invited to talk about Brexit and its causes on Danish podcast Radio Information, hosted by newspaper Information’s editor in chief Rune Lykkeberg. She also visited Danish news programme Deadline to talk about differences in views on EU between European elites and the rest of the European population.

Lars Tønder was appointed professor MSO in 2017. Lars started the year being invited to serve on the editorial board of the journal Politics and Religion. He also published the articles Five Theses for Political Theory in the Anthropocene: Reflections on Wolin's "What Time Is It?" in Theory and Event at the beginning of 2017. As he has been doing earlier years, he coordinated the courses Sociology and Political Theory for the bachelor students. And he too paid a visit to Poya Pakzad in radio show Pakzads Polemik where he talked about tolerance in political theory.

Professor MSO Christian F. Rostbøll started his 2017 being invited to serve on the editorial board of Journal of Politics. Along with contributing op-eds in Danish newspapers, Christian also published several articles. Among them were Democratic Respect and Compromise published in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy in May. In the autumn of 2017, he edited the book Compromise and Disagreement in Contemporary Political Theory on Routledge New York which was the end-product of the contributions from the Compromise & Disagreement-conference in 2015. Christian ended the year arranging the international conference Compromise & Representation which was also part of the Compromise-project. Here he presented his paper Popular Sovereignty and Compromise. 

Publications from the year can be found here. For Compromise-related content, look here.

Other appearances

Political Theory was also active on a variety of other platforms. These included radio shows, podcasts, newspaper articles and television.

Radio show Pakzads Polemik hosted by Poya Pakzad was one of the most recurring platform for the Political Theory group. Over half a year, the show was visited by Lars Tønder talking about tolerance, Malte Frøslee Ibsen talking about the Danish left-wing, Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen talking about the Russian Revolution, and Theresa Scavenius on climate politics. The radio show can be found here.

Christian Rostbøll contributed with an opinion piece on populism and democracy in Danish newspaper Politiken in January. Theresa Scavenius was also featured in Politiken where she in June talked about climate politics and the responsibility of politicians for finding a solution to the climate crisis. These articles are found via Infomedia. Malte Frøslee Ibsen had several op-eds on European politics in Danish newspaper Information, some of which can be found here.

Theresa was also featured on Danish TV in news programme Deadline where she talked about the consequences of the election of Emmanuel Macron in France. And at the end of the year, Christian Røstbøll and Ditte Sørensen released a podcast on the political compromise as part of a series by the Department of Political Science. The podcast is found here. Ditte Sørensen was also present on another podcast when she talked about Brexit and its causes with Danish newspaper Information, a podcast that can be found here

The year 2018

2018 will see more activity from the Political Theory group. The Compromise-project will be joined by two new postdocs, and Political Theory will be engaged in important events, discussions and publishing on different platforms. New events, articles etc. will be announced here on the website.

Key Events in 2017

1. ”Political Theory Seminar with Lasse Thomassen”

Time: 23 March 2017, 13.00-15.30

At this seminar the research group had invited Lasse Thomassen from Queen Mary University of London. He presented his paper Taking Repensentation Ser­­iously: The Multitude vs The People, a discussion of the newest radical democracy movements and their relation to representation.  At this seminar Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen also presented his paper Council Democracy Beyond Bureaucratic Domination: Rethinking Castoriadis' Project of Autonomy.


2. Seminar with Philippe van Parijs

Time: 29 March 2017

The research group had invited dr. Philippe van Parijs to give a speech on his work with basic income. Here Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen also presented his paper Council Democracy Beyond Bureaucratic Domination: Rethinking Castoriadis' Project of Autonomy. In continuation, an event was arranged at Christiansborg together with a few Danish political parties. Here the discussion on basic income featured economists and political party speakers as well as Ditte Sørensen and Theresa Scavenius.


3. ”Populism vs. Multiculturalism: The Dilemmas of Democratic National Identities in the 21st Century”

Time: 29 May 2017

The research group had invited Professor Rogers M. Smith to hold the seminar titled Populism vs. Multiculturalism: The Dilemmas of Democratic National Identities in the 21st Century. The seminar discussed how democracies should meet the populism and nationalism of later years, and how it is possible to make valuable societal compromises.


4. “Pragmatic Belief in Political Ideals”

Time: 13 June 2017, 13.00-15.00

Here the research group had invited Professor Jakob Huber from London School of Economics to present his paper Pragmatic Belief in Political Ideals. Huber presented a discussion concerning the relationship between political ideals and praxis.


5. “Facts & Norms Workshop III”

Time: 24-25 August 2017

More than 10 international scholars attended this workshop to present on and discuss the relationship between factual and normative judgments. This was as fake news had become a hot topic in international news. The workshop continued the work from the first two Facts & Norms-workshops, parts of which were published as a special edition of CRISPP.  The workshop was arranged by Theresa Scavenius.

6. “Seminar on Council Democracy”

Time: 4 oktober 2017

Here James Muldoon from University of Exeter was invited to present his paper Freedom as Self-Determination: The European Council Movements and their Conception of Liberty. He presented a discussion on ideals of freedom as understood through the council democratic movements. Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen also presented his paper The Self-Limiting Revolution and the Mixed Constitution of Socialist Democracy: Claude Lefort’s Model of Council Democracy.


7. Compromise & Representation Conference

Time: 12-14 December 2017

In December 2017 the Compromise-project arranged its third international conference. Keynotes were Eric Beerbohm from Harvard, Sofia Näsström from Uppsala University and Simon May from Florida State University. Melissa Schwartzberg from NYU was also to give a keynote speech but she was unfortunately kept home by sickness. On top of the three keynotes, the conference had presentations from more than 15 international scholars. The theme of the conference was the relationship between compromise and representation in modern democracies. The conference discussed how democratic ideals of people’s self-representation, and theory on the political compromise come together in practice. Among the most popular topics was populism. The conference was arranged by Christian F. Rostbøll.