Our Research Agenda

 

Welcome to our website. Its research focus is on the entanglement of political languages and philosophical traditions, on how they form historically and interact globally. The website is run by the Centre for Political Thought at the University of Exeter, but involves colleagues from across the University and researchers from other international institutions. The site aims to introduce you to all researchers in the network, to their research activities, and to provide details of workshops, conferences and other events, past and future.

The context for our research network is the increase in cultural and academic exchanges between countries and regions across the world, and more generally the interpenetration of different political discourses and philosophical traditions in a more globalised world. Such a world is one where the centre of economic and political power is not concentrated in one or two super-powers, and no longer placed squarely within the West and the “global north” in general. This poses both a political and intellectual problem to Europe and Western-centred conceptions of the world order. There is growing awareness that the modern European conceptual lexicon and values, centred around ideas of rationality, enlightenment, economic progress, sovereignty, freedom, democracy, and rights may have a parochial and contingent history that needs confronting with others histories, conceptual vocabularies and traditions. As scholars seek to better understand this history and the way in which it has become entangled with other languages and cultures, there is an urgent need to interrogate the ways in which the different conceptual lexicons arose in the first place, and are open to transformation and reciprocal borrowings with other cultures and civilizations. Indeed, such borrowings have always taken place, but they are not always fully acknowledged in the way in which each cultural tradition conceives its past.

We conceive our research project not only as focussing on the way in which different languages and traditions across the globe interact and get entangled (not always, if rarely, in peaceful ways), but also on the way in which each broad tradition, and the European one in particular, given its political and linguistic fragmentation, constructs and re-constructs its own history. For this reason, we see our research project as one that investigates intellectual entanglements across both space and time.