Call for papers: The gift and the State

interpersonal and social bond. An interdisciplinary dialogue

The conference is organized by Ricerca sul dono and Palermo LUMSA University

Logo_LumsaNovember 9th and 10th, 2012  
L.U.M.S.A. University
Department of Law of Palermo 

The first conference on the gift, entitled “The gift: its ambivalences and paradoxes. An interdisciplinary dialogue”,  took  place  on  September  18 th   and  19 th ,  2008  at  Milano-Bicocca  University.  The  second conference on the gift, entitled “The gift: bonding value and human values”, took place on September 16 th  and 17 th , 2010 at Macerata University. Now we want to resume and develop the debate on the gift, to deepen the topic of the application of the gift paradigm to the State and the public sphere, once again using an interdisciplinary perspective.

download call for papers

Deadline: June 1st, 2012

The gift has been mostly intended as an anti-utilitarian tool, as capable of opposing the monotheism of the logic of the market thanks to its relational strength. At the same time it has been considered too weak to contribute to the construction of political models. Being an alternative only to the market, the sociality of the gift has been considered marginal compared to the exemplary architecture of political institutions.  The  provocation  is  obvious:  the  gift  is  able  to  bind,  but  not  to  build  bonds  that  can  be formalized and institutionalized. This happens mainly because the concept of the contemporary State is still deeply related to the ancient opposition between the public and the private sphere, between the State and the market, in a background of mutual distrust and suspicion.

Also because of the shadow in which the link between the gift and the State is wrapped, the gift is often between  the  extreme  of  the  maximum  of  gratuitousness  and  the  other  extreme  of  the  maximum  of  justice.  In the first case, the fact that the gift is oriented towards a logic of absolute gratuitousness seems to rule  out  any  public  application.  The  gift  becomes  a  private  affair  far  from  any  model  of  political  justice, redistribution, and application of the guarantee rights. A theory of the gift in this sense is necessarily out of any theory of justice.

Also in the second case the gift does not seem to fully explain the relationship between citizens and the State: what the State redistributes it is not a manifestation of the gift, but of justice. Hence there is a radical  critique  of  the  misuse  of  the  gift  as  an  opportunity  to  address  the  deficiencies  of  the  State, replacing  the  institutional  Welfare  (now  unable  to  be  guaranteed)  with  a  network  of  informal relationships  that  hide  the  failures  of  the  State  (just  think  about  the  indispensability  of  the  family Welfare, and the inequality that it creates between those who can and those who can not use it). They give as gifts what must be guaranteed by rights.

We  have  to  think  about  this  aporetic  link  and  to  challenge  the  crisis  of  imagination  and  political institutionalization through a fruitful and constructive dialogue between the gift paradigm and the urgent need to design integrated models. We will try to think together public and innovative translations of the gift paradigm, relying on its extraordinary heuristic ability that makes it a “total social fact” rather than a “mere private fact”.

The conference is addressed to scholars of different scientific fields, and aims to relaunch the debate and the research on a so crucial and wide topic, in order to deeply analyze the paradoxes, the ambivalences and the richness of the gift in its various applications.
The topics of the conference: 

•  Gift and law
•  Gift and administration of the State
•  Gift and politics
•  Gift and Welfare
•  Gift and well-being
•  Gift and justice
•  Gift and innovation 

Keynote speakers:

Maurizio Ambrosini (Sociology - University of Milano)
Philippe Chanial (Sociology - University of Paris-Dauphine)
Francesco Conigliaro (Teology and political philosophy - University of Palermo)
Vittorio Pelligra (Economics - University of Cagliari)
Elena Pulcini (Philosophy - University of Firenze)
Francesco Zini (Philosophy of law - University of Verona)


June 1st, 2012: an abstract of 6.000 characters (including the spaces), with the title of the paper,  the  chosen  theme,  the  aims  of  the  research,  the  methodology,  and  the  main references.
June 30th, 2012: notification of acceptance.
October 13th, 2012: full paper of 40.000 characters (including the spaces) maximum.
Abstract and Paper Submission:
The authors have to send their abstracts and full papers to:  Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.

A selection of the accepted papers will be considered for pubbcliation in a book published by Di Girolamo Editore in the series Saperi e Polis

Organizing Committee :

Anna Cossetta (University of  Genova)
Guglielmo Faldetta (University of Enna “Kore”)
Sergio Labate (University of  Macerata)
Carmelo Torcivia (Theological Faculty of Sicily and L.U.M.S.A. University)

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