7th International Conference of the Group for Social Engagement Studies

The relation between engagement and horizons is fraught with tensions. If we understand engagement as a social practice based on reflection on values, norms and rules of one’s own social reality and horizon as projections and representations of desired reality, it follows that engagement also needs forms of imagination, utopia and fictions. The aim of this conference is to think through this relation and argue that horizons of engagement are constitutive elements of critical thinking of a given social regime and reflection regarding their potential alternative. Furthermore, we argue that such a thought plays a significant role in delegitimizing ossified, well-nigh assumed social structures, fraught with domination, as well as it encourages more or less radical experimentation with existing institutions.

Given the polysemy of the relation between horizons and engagement, we aim for contributions that thematize and problematize such a relation. Do horizons signify boundaries of a realized ideal or something that necessarily lies beyond any materialization? Do representations of reality to which we aspire provide an ethical dimension to political projects, projections and anticipations? In other words, does social engagement also have to be ethical, lest politics be reduced to mere calculus? If horizons are something yet to be achieved, does engagement then not assume some form of imagination, utopia, perhaps even fiction?

Our current political crisis with growing authoritarianism and nationalism in the whole world, urges us to think of different vocabularies and languages as a way to activate old unaccomplished visions that can function in new social circumstances. We seek to create new registers, visions and paths as a way to respond to the pressures of the growing inequalities in the world. The overall ambition of the conference is to present both empirical studies and theoretical inquiries that would contribute to the ongoing discussions on the role of engagement in the 21st century.

The crucial questions we would like to place at the heart of this conference are as follows:

  • Is (social) engagement without a vision possible? What does a good society include, and must visions of it be regulatory determining for actual social practices? Is it sufficient to focus on ‘concrete’ quotidian questions, avoiding treating social reality as a whole?
  • Do we need syncretic concepts such as equaliberty (Balibar) and how do they strengthen reflection on values, norms and rules? What ethical premises lie at the foundation of projected horizons and how do they determine and direct social engagement?
  • Is it possible to create a desired social reality through democratic means of action? Crucially, is a non-violent revolution as a leap toward desired reality possible? What is the connection between various forms of social and governmental order and projections – does democracy necessarily and always have a role to play?
  • Are the horizons of engagement necessarily to be found in the past, in already well-worn paths? If this is not the case, what are the attributes of the new register and in what narratives do they manifest? Finally, what new paths are possible today?

 Confirmed keynote speakers:

Mona Lilja, University of Gothenburg

Alisse Waterston, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

Organization of the Conference

The Conference is organized by the Group for Social Engagement Studies at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade

Application Procedure

Conference applications should be sent via e-mail to the following address ifdt.conference@instifdt.bg.ac.rs no later than April 1st 2020.

The official language of the conference is English. Presentation formats include individual presentation that will be grouped by thematic content. Individual presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.

We kindly ask you to put the following title in your email subject: “APP last name of the applicant”. The complete proposal in .doc, .docx,  or .pdf format (Times New Romans, 12) needs to contain:

  • Abstract (up to 500 words) including title and key words
  • Short bio (up to 200 words) including name and surname, affiliation and contact e-mail of the author

There is no registration fee. The Program Committee of the conference will select the presenters based on the submitted abstracts and notify everyone by April 5th 2020.


Important Dates:

Application deadline: April 1st 2020

Notification of acceptance: April 5th 2020

Conference Dates: May 28-30th 2020


Program Committee:

Gazela Pudar Draško, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Andrea Perunović, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Djurdja Trajković, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Anthony Faramelli, Goldmisths, University of London

Roberto Navarette Alonso, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Eric Fassin, University Paris 8

Klaus Wiegerling, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie