Constitution and Constititutionalism

Constitution and Constititutionalism

The Third Concepta Resarch Training Seminar

Date: 5-6 November 2009

Place: Stockholm University, Sweden

Organisers: Concepta - International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought and the University of Stockholm.

Convenors: Dr. Jussi Kurunmäki (Stockholm University), Dr. Suvi Soininen (University of Jyväskylä), Dr. Henrik Stenius (University of Helsinki)

In recent years, questions regarding the meaning and scope of the concept of constitution have become re-actualised in conjunction with the increased attention that has been paid to the phenomena of globalisation, multiculturalism and the transformation of modern democracy. Questions, which for a long time had been posed almost exclusively by legal and political theorists and the historians of “the age of revolutions”, seem to have gained practical relevance: Are the constitution-makers the same people as the people affected by the constitution in question? What is the relationship between the
concept of constitution and the concepts of nation and state?

Present problems and future concerns revitalise our interest in the history of the concepts of constitution and constitutionalism. The conceptual history perspective not only helps us to understand the background of today’s problems but it also enables us to see the contested character of the very concept of constitution. We may ask: What meanings have been given to concept of constitution and in what kind of political controversies it has been involved? What kind of role have geopolitical constellations had in terms of constitution-making and constitutional reforms? What is characteristic to a constitutional moment? When and where did these moments take place? We may also learn why and in which ways “constitution” has become one of the key concepts of modern politics.

In order to shed light to the politics of constitution and constitutionalism, the International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Though, Concepta, invites doctoral students, post docs and senior scholars to a workshop on the concepts of constitution and constitutionalism. The focus of the workshop is narrow in a sense that we are interested in a particular concept (or a cluster of concepts), but it is also broad in a sense that the concept of constitution will be approached from a number of different angles.

Consequently, papers dealing with the following topics are especially welcome.

-  historical case studies of debates over constitutions

-  diachronic conceptual changes in the use of “constitution”

-  the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy

-  political ideologies and the concept of constitution

-  parliamentarism as republican form of constitutionalism

-  geopolitical aspects of constitution-making

-  ancient constitutions vs. revolutionary moments: temporal aspects of “constitution”

-  sub-national and post-national constitutional aspirations

-  conceptual history aspects of the attempts to create a European constitution

Deadline for abstracts (max. 400 words):  1 September 2009

Send abstracts to Jussi Kurunmäki: jussi.kurunmaki (at) or
Suvi Soininen: suvi.m.soininen (at)

Keynote speakers

The keynote speakers at the seminar are Dario Castiglione (University of Exeter), Max Edling (University of Uppsala), Andreas Kalyvas (The New School for Social Research, New York). The topics covered by the key note speakers include the making of the US Constitution, the history of pouvoir constituent, and the EU Constitution.

Dario Castiglione is Reader in Political Theory at the University of Exeter in the Department of Politics of the School of Human and Social Sciences. His major field of interest is political theory and its history, with particular application to contemporary European developments. His main areas of research comprise constitutionalism, democratic theory, the interconnection between state and society, the history of early modern political thought, and democracy and
citizenship in the EU. He has published extensively on these issues and acted as one of the lead-partners in numerous EU projects on issues such as European Constitutionalism, Democracy and Citizenship.

Max Edling is a member of the Department of History at Uppsala University and the author of A Revolution in Favor of Government: Origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State (New York, 2003). His
current research deals with American political economy and war finance between the Revolution and the Civil War.

Andreas Kalyvas is an associate professor in the Department of Politics at The New School for Social Research. He is the author of 'Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary: Weber, Schmitt, Arendt' (Cambridge University Press 2008) and the co-author of 'Liberal Beginnings: Making a Democracy for the Moderns' (Cambridge University Press 2008).  He is currently working on two book projects: one on the intersecting trajectories of dictatorship and tyranny in Western political thought and another on the constituent power and radical democratic politics.

Registration fee: 50 euros.

Accommodation: More information will be published soon.

Travel grants: A number of travel grants will be available to contribute towards students travel expenses. Although, students should be aware that these grants might not cover full costs. Those wishing to apply for a travel grant should indicate this in their applications.

Contact: Jussi Kurunmäki: jussi.kurunmaki (at) and Suvi
Soininen: suvi.m.soininen (at)


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