Historical, Philosophical and Theological Perspectives on Political Violence conference 31.3.-2.4.2022

Hybrid conference, University of Helsinki, March 31-April 2, 2022.

The Historical, Philosophical and Theological Perspectives on Political Violence conference will be organized on March 31 – April 2 2022 by the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence EuroStorie (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki) in cooperation with the Faculty of Theology (University of Helsinki) and the Religion, Conflict and Dialogue Research Center (Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki).

The conference is a hybrid one with some presentations in-person (at Unioninkatu 40, Metsätalo, Hall 1) and some virtually over Zoom. The whole conference will be streamed in Zoom. You are welcome to attend the conference in person or virtually - whatever mode of attendance suits you best.

The conference provides a multidisciplinary venue for critical appraisal of the central questions concerning political violence and aggression. The conference’s aim is to scrutinize and delineate the current discussion (academic and non-academic) on political violence by discussing its contemporary forms, character, and modes of justification, especially within the context of the development of the idea of Europe and modern European identity. What is meant by political violence and aggression? When and under which conditions is it justified? Who has the right to exercise it and against whom?

The answers to these questions vary and depend on various factors such as pre-established goals and ends, available resources and possibilities of action, historical and socio-economic context, the ideological, political, and religious-theological background of the actors. Thus, this timely topic will be approached from diverse perspectives: political sciences, history of ideas, philosophy, and theology. In addition to focusing on particular forms of political violence, the conference will pay special attention to (a) how the above questions have been addressed and answered in modern political, philosophical and theological thought, and (b) what kind of ideological currents and historical events lay at the background of such considerations. One important issue is the question of the influence of the experiences and of the political and philosophical and moral ideas arising from the aftermath of the two World Wars in the 20th Century to the shaping of modern European political identity and conception of political violence and of its limits. The post-War era is in important ways characterized, for instance, by an ongoing intellectual and political negotiation between the practice of political violence and the liberal human rights-based morality; the proper understanding and scrutinizing of which requires multiple perspectives.

The keynote address will be given by Professor Samuel Moyn (Yale University). Professor Moyn is a leading scholar of the intellectual history of human rights and European intellectual history.


(may be subject to changes)

Thursday, March 31

10.45   Opening and Welcome

11.00–12.30  Paper Session 1

Chair: Kaius Tuori

Saarinen, Risto (University of Helsinki): Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Recognition as Modern Concepts of Conflict Resolution

Segev, Mor (University of South Florida): Aristotle and His Followers on Political Religious Persecution

Tognocchi, Martino (University of Milan): Between Intimacy and Abyss Irrepresentability: Civil War and the Concept of Enemy in Early-Modern Political Theory

12.30–14.00   Lunch break

14.00–15.30   Paper Session 2

Chair: Pamela Slotte

Sandelin, Marianne (University of Helsinki): A Conservative Justification for the Political Violence of the French Revolution?

Suuronen, Ville (University of Helsinki): Spinoza as an Aberration: Violence, Death and Sovereignty in Twentieth Century Political Theory”

Pankakoski, Timo (University of Helsinki): Another Language: The Relationship Between War and Politics in Ernst Jünger’s Early Political Writings (Virtual Presentation)

15.30–16.00 Coffee break

16.00–17.30   Paper Session 3

Chair: Tuukka Brunila

Zackariasson, Ulf (Uppsala University): Absoluteness Without Metaphysical Absolutes: Pragmatist and Phenomenological Perspectives on the Bonds Between Religion and Violence

Goldman, Aaron James (Lund University): Faith, Violence, and Exceptions (To Exceptions) In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling

Sawczyński, Piotr (Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow): Exceptional Violence: Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben and the Messianic Critique of Sovereignty

18.00    Conference reception

Friday, April 1

09.30–11.00 Paper Session 4

Chair: Olli-Pekka Vainio

Nyirkos, Tamás (University of Public Service, Budapest): Fratelli Tutti and the Just War Tradition: Lists vs. Theory        

Grigoriadis, Konstantinos (University of York): Can a Revolution Be Successful Without Political Violence? Benjamin Constant’s Account of Legitimacy          

Puumala, Laura (University of Turku): Sustainability, Just War and Just Peace (Virtual Presentation)                                      

11.00–11.30   Coffee break

11.30–13.00  Keynote

Chair: Panu-Matti Pöykkö

Samuel Moyn (Yale University): Leo Tolstoy’s Critique of Humane War                              

13.00–14.30   Lunch break

14.30–16.00   Paper Session 5

Chair: Timo Miettinen

Scheuerman, William E. (Indiana University): Goodbye to Nonviolence? (Virtual Presentation)

Tuori, Kaius (University of Helsinki): Totalitarian Violence and the Rise of Human Dignity

Pupo, Spartaco (University of Calabria): Nonviolent Political Scepticism in the First Half of the European Twentieth Century: Russell, Popper, and Oakeshott (Virtual Presentation)                                  

16.15–17.45     Paper Session 6

Chair: Marianne Sandelin

Livingston, Steven (The George Washington University): The Role of Christian Nationalism in Nancy Bermeo’s Notion of “Distancing Failure”

Vainio, Olli-Pekka (University of Helsinki): On (Not) Breaking the Wheel of Violence: The Case of Herbert Marcuse

Rakhmanin, Aleksei (University of Helsinki): Albert Camus’ Political Antitheodicy                                

Saturday, April 2

12.30–13.30   Paper Session 7

Chair: Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen

Kasa, Tuija (University of Helsinki): Human Rights Education and Political Violence: Addressing Dehumanization and Social Injustices in the Context of Human Rights Education 

Tacik, Przemysław (Jagiellonian University in Kraków): Violence in Self-Determination Conflicts: Exploring the Zone of Exception in International Law and Human Rights

13.30–14.00 Coffee Break

14.00–15.00 Paper Session 8

Chair: Panu-Matti Pöykkö

Tammi, Iida-Maria (University of Helsinki): Humanitarian Security in Armed Conflict: How Law Is Used to Legitimate Political Violence Against Aid Workers in Syria (Virtual Presentation)

Barker, Chris (The American University in Cairo): Political Violence in British India (Virtual Presentation)

15.00            Conclusion