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Entretien avec Graig CALHOUN


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Entretien avec Graig CALHOUN

Pour affronter les grands bouleversements mondiaux à venir, qu’il s’agisse de  l'économie globalisée, des nouveaux conflits politiques internationaux, des risques environnementaux, des grands groupes médiatiques ou des flux migratoires, beaucoup reconnaissent la nécessité du renouvellement de la solidarité sociale. Comment pouvons-nous imaginer la cohabitation et, idéalement, la coopération sur de grandes-échelles, sur de longues distances, et avec des différences profondes? Ce projet de chaire soulèvera, dans tous les domaines abordés, la question fondamentale de la mise en œuvre de cette solidarité mondiale essentielle. Il s’agit ici d’un nouveau concept, celui du « good stranger », ou, comment cohabiter et coopérer au-delà des communautés familières et des cultures communes ?

English Summary

Confronting upheavals in the global economy, the prominence of global political conflicts, the global risks created by environmental damage, and the new connections forged through global media and migrations, many recognize the need for renewal of social solidarity. How do we imagine cohabitation and ideally cooperation on large-scales, at long distances, and with deep differences? This question is pressed on us by our embeddedness in impersonal systems like the global economy, the prominence of global political conflicts, the global risks created by environmental damage, and the connections forged through global media and migrations. This project addresses the basic question of how that solidarity can be achieved – and in what ways it is limited or resisted – on scales larger than directly interpersonal relations yet more specific than abstract universal categories like the human.

The focus of the project is on the problem of being "good strangers", that is, of finding appropriate ways to cohabit and cooperate that are not entirely dependent on interpersonal relationships (as in friendship, family, and local community) or common culture (whether national, religious, or other). It is a problem Durkheim made famous, though his account of functional integration within the nation-state did not fully resolve it. Appeals to abstract, universal principles such as human rights do not by themselves provide an adequate framework for understanding the effort to forge relationships across lines of difference. An adequate cosmopolitan perspective cannot be based simply on the notion of equivalence among human individuals, nor on universal application of concrete norms. It must take deeper account of difference and of solidarities between the scales of families and friends and humanity as a whole. Both sociological analysis and normative improvements depend on grasping the nature of connections and transformations at these intermediate scales. Solidarities are multiple and overlapping: nations, religions, ethnicities, professions, and more. Connections are also created through media, markets, migration, social movements, life in neighborhoods, employment in giant corporations, shared reliance on natural resources like rivers, and shared exposure to environmental degradation. Analysis of the dynamics of connections, of what responsibilities follow from them, and of what makes them more peaceful and productive or conflictual and destructive is a vital complement to study of immediately interpersonal solidarities on the one hand and universal norms on the other. Connections do not all follow the logic of “nesting” or matching populations to territories – as local, national, and global scales stereotypically do. Many are cross-cutting, as for example humanitarian interventions, religious missions, migrations, and business ventures are all organized across the lines of more stable, longer-term solidarities. Cities are not simply one intermediate scale, but also sites for dynamic relations among people in different cross-cutting solidarities. Conventional comparison of nation-states misses much; it is crucial also to attend to circulations, more or less porous edges as well as borders, linkages, mutual influences, and contexts. Above all, both sociological and normative analysis must focus on transformations not assumed steady states. Relations across lines of difference are never just translations of cultural content; they always open the possibility of transformation of the participants. The making and remaking of connections changes the connected parties (whether these are individuals or formal organizations or solidarities at various scales).

Craig CALHOUN is Professor of the Social Sciences at New York University and is the founding director of NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge. He has also served as the president of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) since 1999.
As an individual scholar, he has written on culture and communication, technology and social change, social theory and politics, and on the social sciences themselves. His most recent books include Nations Matter: Culture, History, and the Cosmopolitan Dream (Routledge, 2007) and Cosmopolitanism and Belonging (Routledge, forthcoming 2009), and the University of Chicago Press is publishing a collection of his historical essays, entitled The Roots of Radicalism. Calhoun recently edited two noteworthy collections: Sociology in America (Chicago, 2007) and Lessons of Empire: Imperial Histories and American Power, with F. Cooper and K. Moore (New Press, 2006).
Throughout his career, he has been involved in projects bringing social science to bear on issues of public concern. These have ranged from consulting on rural education and development in North Carolina, to advising the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea, to helping develop communications infrastructure in Sudan. Most famously, he provided a detailed eyewitness account—and award-winning sociological analysis—of the student revolt in Tiananmen Square, in his most popular work to date, Neither Gods nor Emperors: Students and the Struggle for Democracy in China (California, 1994).
Craig Calhoun received his doctorate from Oxford University. He taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 19 years, where he also served as dean of the Graduate School and director of the University Center for International Studies. He has been a visiting professor in China, Eritrea, France, Norway, and Sudan.

>> Pour en savoir plus : http://www.college-etudesmondiales.org/fr/content/craig-calhoun


 

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