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  4. Universalism and Relativism: Is there anything new?




Universalism and Relativism: Is there anything new?




Speaker: Professor Michel Wieviorka

The Ethnic and Racial Studies Annual Lecture 2013 will be given by Professor Michel Wieviorka, Professor of Sociology at L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and President of the Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.

Universalism is usually associated with modernity and values which seem primarily to be the historical legacy of the work of the Western world on itself and of its expansion since the Age of Discovery. And it is more and more widely criticized. Some criticize an abstract universalism which ignores concrete realities. Others denounce the various forms of domination which the focus on the rule of law and reason conceal: the West over the rest of the world, men over women, White people over those of colour, etc. Yet others suggest that the reference to universal values constitutes a new garb for approaches which are nationalist, racist, xenophobic and, in the last resort, intolerant.

Should we therefore announce the decline of universal values? Or lapse into relativism? Definitely not: this lecture will examine the limits of the traditional conceptions of universalism with an aim to reformulating the concept.

Born in 1946, Michel Wieviorka is currently professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and chair of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (FMSH), both located in Paris. He has been president of the International Sociological Association (2006-2010) and director of the Centre d'Analyse et d'Intervention Sociologiques (1993-2009).

His books include, in English, The Arena of Racism (Sage, 1995), The Making of Terrorism (University of Chicago Press, new ed. 2002), Violence : A New Approach (Sage, 2008), The Lure of Anti-Semitism. Hatred of Jews in present-Day France (Brill, 2008), Evil (Polity Press, 2012), Le Front national, entre extrémisme, populisme et démocratie (Counterpoint, 2013). He is the editor of a new Journal, Socio (first issue : March 2013), and a member of the editorial board of several other international journals, including Ethnic and Racial Studies.

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When & where

6.30pm - 8.30pmThursday 9th May 2013

Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre Tait Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom

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+44 (0)20 7040 8037

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