:Inequalities in the World System
Political Science, Philosophy, Law
International Symposium in São Paulo (Brazil),September 3-6, 2009
(Klaus-Gerd GIESEN, Université d’Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand, France
(Marcos NOBRE, Université de Campinas/CEBRAP (Campinas/São Paulo, Brazil
Are global inequalities shrinking or increasing on the global scale? Obviously, the answer depends on the criteria applied to measure it, as well as the types of inequality to focus on. If one refers to the economic distribution of wealth among states, the emerging economies, notably the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), experience a spectacular surge (but not necessarily less unequal on the domestic level), while sub-Sahara Africa deeper dives into poverty. However, when appraised from the angle of social-class divide, which possibly can be conceptualized as being transnational, inequality emerges as a factor that keeps polarizing the world society. As far as the military dimension is concerned, the asymmetry of wars and conflicts stemms directly from the United States’ overwhelming responsibility for 45% of the world’s military expenditures. Access to the resources “law” and “norms” also varies by type of actor: Some states, multinational enterprises, and non-governmental organizations enjoy considerable financial capacities and competences, enabling them to exert domination on competitors. Even environmental concerns come to affect populations differently as desertification in Africa, the threat of submergence of South Pacific island-states, and the deforestation of the Amazons have suggested, to mention only a few examples.
Refering to social protests, claims for equality tend now to fuse with demands for enhanced liberty, in a way that the primacy of the principle of equality over liberty is somehow relativized. This trend explains the recently accumulating recourse to justice all over the world, arising from an expectation to resolve, and empowered to decide, social controversies and antagonisms which multiply in the international arena. At the same time, the persistence of structural inequalities bolstering the domination of the rich and powerful has encouraged the burgeoning of new transnational social movements. Among them the anti-globalization movements and the jihadists which subscribe to ideologies and pursue strategies to radically bring the rules and institutions of the global capitalist and political system in question; on the other hand, the humanitarist movement, equally en vogue, offers a rather healing and reformist approach.
Consequently, the critical question is if and how egalitarian utopias can still be successfull. How can the philosophies of international distributive justice be re-adjusted to once again be relevant in the new context? How can the durability of social, economic, legal, and political inequalities of the early 21st century be explained? How can the different types of inequalities be conceptualized beyond a purely quantitative approach? How to re-evaluate the action of international organizations such as the World Bank and the WTO, or national politics of development assistance, and measure them against their actual capacity to somewhat level social and economic inequalities? How to conceive of more equal global structures of security and ecology? How to politically and legally analyse the role of informal actors (the Paris and London Clubs, the G8, the Davos Forum, etc.) or the new financial actors (e.g. sovereign funds, hedge funds, “vulture funds”) in relation to poverty in the world? How to theorize of the new constellations, disorders, and instabilities in world capitalism?
The primary goal of the conference is not only to identify and elicit new tracks of reflection within the three disciplines (political science, philosophy law), while remaining open to historians, sociologists and economists, but above all to confront the disciplinary perspectives and to fuse them together, if possible. Indeed, in the face of today’s enormous challenges, disciplinary seclusion will prove nonproductive.
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• Place of meeting: Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP), São Paulo (Brésil), Rua Morgado de Mateus 615.
• Organizing institutions:
Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP), São Paulo (Brésil), and Centre de recherche Michel de l’Hospital de l’Université d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand (France).
• Meeting working languages: English and French
• The number of participants is limited. Travel and accomodation expenses are the reponsibility of the participants. There are no registration fees. The organizers will provide information to assist in finding reasonable accomodation.
• Written papers must be submitted only via email and no later than June 30, 2009. The papers will immediately be forwarded to all participants. The oral presentation of each paper is limited to 15 minutes, and will be followed by a plenary discussion based on the assumption that all participants had read all the papers prior to their arrival in São Paulo.
• Applicants are invited to submit a paper proposal in PDF format, including paper title and a substantial abstract to the following address: <email@example.com>
• As the meeting will focus on conceptualization and theorization, essentially empirical papers will not be considered.
Deadline for submission of paper proposals: February 28, 2009.