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The General and the Particular in the Contemporary World

The General and the Particular in the Contemporary World



The General and the Particular in the Contemporary World

Philosophical, Anthropological, Theological, Aesthetic and Political-Economic Implications


Announcement of an international conference to be held at

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario on May 8th and 9th 2020.



In the age of globalization and transcultural networking, and of growing nationalism and isolationism, the dichotomy of universalism and particularism becomes a central focal point for scientific, cultural, political, religious and social debates. Are there universal values and rules that can be declared binding for all people worldwide, in all cultures, religions and societies? Or should we regard particularism and cultural relativism following the achievements of postcolonial theories as an opportunity for the co-existence of different worldviews, languages, cultures and denominations? Is there a universalism existent beyond all the cultural particularisms? And can particularisms assert themselves without being in relation to a universal measurement? How do we understand the problem of good and evil in the world? What are the local, national and international implications of identity politics on the left and on the right? How can we overcome the theoretical juxtaposition of universalism and particularism without either asserting an absolute or accepting a sort of postmodern ‘anything goes’? The philosopher, ethnologist and sociologist Lawrence Krader (1919–1998) devoted himself to these questions in various published and unpublished writings (for more information visit the homepage of the Krader Archive at Mills library at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, The planned conference seeks to shed light on these issues from his and other perspectives and aims to tackle this question by means of describing and analyzing concrete historical, empirical, political, economic, ethical and aesthetic debates. We invite scholars from various disciplines to take up this question and address it from the viewpoint of their research fields, including topics such as human rights and theories of recognition, cultural relativism and postcolonialism, research on ethnic, cultural, religious and other minorities, multiculturalism, theories and concepts of deviance, federalism, centralism and the diaspora, international alliances and national aspirations, free trade and protectionism, gender binary coherence, queer theories and gender fluidity, diplomacy and belligerency, civil liberties and political correctness, applied ethics, questions such as genetic research, animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty etc., aesthetics and art in theory and concepts. We are interested in papers which do not simply plead one side of an issue but take up the various sides of the debate on these issues, if critically. This conference respects sharp intellectual debate on these important issues. Ideally, we are hoping to foster a debate about the debate bringing together speakers from a variety of perspectives to argue over universalism and particularism as they manifest themselves in our world today and their significance for the future. The conference papers will be published in an edited volume.


We will be inviting successful applicants to participate in the conference on the basis of abstracts (200-300 words in length) submitted before the end of the calendar year 2019 to the following members of the Krader Project:


Prof. Rob Beamish

Prof. Cyril Levitt

Dr. Sabine Sander


Successful applicants will be informed of the decision by January 31, 2020 and will have their travel costs and room and board covered by the Lawrence Krader Research Project. For more information please visit the homepage of the Lawrence Krader Research Project: