The conference (The constructions of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Discourses on Nationalism and Populism) with the visit from my old professor Ernesto Laclau went well. Thanks to all the speakers and participants.
What was praised was the interdisciplinary environment and the intellectual stimulation that it brought. Sometimes interdisciplinary events produce a situation where people speak nominally about the same things but no real discussion can be brought about – perhaps because they are stuck defending their ‘mother’ discipline. Here there was such a plurality of disciplines in a plurality of panels, including the final round table, that the disciplinary boundaries were questioned, brought down – and in some cases realised again but now with more tangible evidence. I hope the discussions will continue in one form or another. The whole point of the conference was to produce interesting constellations of views and topics – I guess that worked.
I’ll only get to work on the conference proceeding after tonight (as I’m teaching this afternoon). Last night I submitted an application at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, the research institute where I’m currently based as a Visiting Fellow. It was one of the three institutes in the University of Helsinki supporting the conference. They expect 400 applicants by this afternoon, there is space for a dozen fellows, so you can imagine how much luck on top of any good application is needed in this process.