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The Fanatic: 14 November 2011, İstanbul Şehir University, Dept of Political Science and IR, Monday // 15.00-18:00‏

Fanaticism’ and ‘the Fanatic’ are powerful mobilising tropes of national and international politics today. In his recent book On Fanaticism (2010), Alberto Toscano observes that there are few terms in our political vocabulary as damning as that of ‘the fanatic’: it ‘stands outside the frame of political rationality, possessed by a violent conviction that brooks no argument and will only rest, if ever, once every rival view or way of life is eradicated’. Dominique Colas notes in her clasic study that “civil society and fanaticism have mutually defined each other since the 16th century,” (Civil Society and Fanaticism, 1997).

Radically polysemous terms, inteligible only as weapons in specific historical circumstances, and in terms of their reciprocal influence, we seem only to know the one in terms of the other. And yet they also shift and change places: there are civil society fanatics as much as there have been fanatical enemies of civil society. Whereas many dismiss the fanatic as obscuring or inflaming political disagreement, the discourse of the fanatic may instead also illuminate the theory as well as the practcies of politics and power in penetrating ways.

During the last 20 years, a new wave of thinkers have mobilised the figure of the fanatic as a means of re-visiting such core political problems as the relationship between religion and politics, faith and knowledge, theory and practice, reason and revolution, civil society and the state. This symposium explores the figure of the fanatic in political, historical and cultural discourse. What are the promise and the threat of the fanatic today? How can we trace its emergence or repression through the history of modernity? Who or what takes the place of the fanatic both historically and today – the Jew, the Muslim, the Christian, the communist, the terrorist, the liberal, the capitalist, or even the philosopher and the theologian?

Abir Hamdar (Lancaster University, UK)

Bülent Diken (Lancaster University, UK)

Julian Reid (University Of Lapland, Finland)

Kemal Sayar (Marmara University, Istanbul)

Michael Dillon (İstanbul Şehir University, Istanbul)

Symposium will be conducted in English

Time: November 14, 2011 - Monday // 15.00-18:00

Venue: Istanbul Şehir University Altunizade Campus Conference Hall

İstanbul Şehir University

Department of Political Science and International Relations