Violent Turns. Sources, Interpretations, Responses

The American University of Paris
June 21-23, 2023
The aim of this international conference is to provide researchers with an interdisciplinary platform to
investigate and debate the question of contemporary irruptions of political violence and to inquire into
the different responses intended to counteract violence. When and why do individuals, groups, and
societies come to believe that peaceful means and legal avenues of redress, including non-violent civil
disobedience, are insufficient or improper to achieve a social or political goal and to view violent action
as morally legitimate and necessary for change? Can one identify trends shaping recourse to violence by
parts of the populace? What role does state violence play in the dialectic? When, if ever, is political violence
legitimate? How can violence be averted?

These are not new questions in political theory or the social sciences. State and non-state political violence
being a regular occurrence in the historical trajectory of all societies, including modern democracies. But
they have taken on new salience through the rise of far-right extremist movements and irruptions of
individual and group violence of various ideological and social origins. The simultaneity of these phenomena
across different countries, and the manifest potential for new violent turns, raises essential theoretical and
policy questions, requiring renewed critical investigation.

The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights, and Conflict Prevention
and the Center for Critical Democracy at The American University of Paris welcome papers that analyze
the origins of violence in new innovative directions and studies of state responses to violence and of the
strengths and limits of strategies based on education, dialogue, truth and reconciliation, deradicalization
and so forth. We are also interested in historical-comparative work situating current political violence
across space and time, critical political philosophical investigations of state legitimacy, as well as rightful
and unrightful resistance.
We welcome contributions in all fields, including psychology, political science,
anthropology, sociology, history, law, criminology, literature, and communications as well as approaches
promoting creative responses to the theme of the conference.

Suggested Topics

Sources of violence:
• Determinants (personal, community, structural) in the violent turn of individuals, groups, and
• Differentiating drivers of violent turns: political, socio-economic, religious, or psychological
• Are these factors and drivers really discernable and can they be disentangled?
• Identity, othering and violence

Spectrum of socio-political violence:
• Symbolic and material violence
• Gendered and racialized violence
• Violence against things, violence against people
• State and non-state violence
• Colonial and anti-colonial violence
• Individual and mass violence

Institutions and violence:
• Effects of violence on the rule of law, democratic stability, and human rights
• The role of the law and government institutions in reducing, maintaining, or fueling political
• States of exception and state violence
• Prevention, reeducation

Philosophical Investigations:
• State legitimacy and legitimacy of non-state violence
• Pacifism, civil disobedience and violent direct action
• Political obedience, systemic injustices, and the right to resist

The conference languages are English and French. Proposals in English or French must include an abstract
of no more than 400 words and a short narrative cv of no more than 250 words. Please send all materials
to violentturnsconference by December 15th, 2022.
We will evaluate the submissions and notify those we have selected by January 31, 2023.

Limited funds for travel and accommodation are available for presenters in need. If you wish to apply for
a grant, please include a one paragraph statement requesting financial support.

Organizing and scientific committee:
Philip Golub (AUP), Constance Pâris de Bollardière (AUP), Stephen Sawyer (AUP), Brian Schiff (AUP),
Sharon Weill (AUP), Roman Zinigrad (AUP)