Politics Without Common Measure? Rethinking Incommensurability

Room G, City Hall
Time Slot: 
Monday 26th March 14:15 - 15:45
Panel Chair: 
  • Dr Humeira Iqtidar (King's College London)
Panel Discussant: 
  • Dr Naomi Millner (University of Bristol)
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Manjeet Ramgotra (SOAS University of London)
  • Dr Mark Jackson (University of Bristol)
  • Dr Carlo Bonura (SOAS University of London)

This year’s PSA call for papers draws our attention to a world that is “increasingly being framed in terms of competing tribes, often with very different, seemingly incompatible world views.”  What are the grounds for this seeming incompatibility either as a “frame” or as a “fact?”  This panel returns to the question of incommensurability in order to examine the role that claims to absolute difference play in the articulation of geopolitics, political modernity, and coloniality.  It will also consider how incommensurability is mobilised in political thinking and political theory, and whether the truly incomparable can be conceptualized.

The incommensurable, however, does not necessarily have to be thought as absolute or “bounded” difference, usually characterized in religious or cultural terms.  Rather, within the fields of political theory, post-colonial studies, anthropology, and comparative literature the concept of incommensurability has been rethought in innovative ways, as a relation or an element of the everyday, for instance. In addition to pursuing new understandings of incommensurability, this panel will consider the limits or potentials of imagining a politics without common measure.  Claims to being-in-common are always political claims, yet are there new, possibly contingent, horizons in a politics without common measure?

Presenter:  Manjeet Ramgotra (SOAS, University of London)

Paper title: The languages of republicanism: self-rule and the public thing"

Presenter: Mark Jackson (University of Bristol)
Paper title: Decolonising Critique and the Ontological Care of Incommensurability 

Presenter: Carlo Bonura (SOAS, University of London)
Paper title: Incommensurability and Comparative critique

Discussant: Naomi Millner (University of Bristol)

Chair: Humeira Iqtidar, King's College London