Finnish Political Science Association

Annual Convention

March 7-8, 2013 at the University of Lapland

Ruptures and Reveries

Fundamental to politics is not just the question of what is but what could and what ought to be. Classical political thinkers such as Aristotle noted that language allows us to discourse about the just and the unjust, and thus about different possible worlds and states of affairs. Moderns such as E.H. Carr emphasized reality, while dismissing the idealists as daydreamers. Yet, Carr’s insight was that politics needs both reality and utopia, and that politics would be nothing without dreams. Indeed, dreamers have shaped both historical and contemporary political thought. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are but two dreamers without which some of the great ruptures of the twentieth century would have struggled to occur.

Political ruptures require their dreamers, but dreams may burst too—even becoming nightmares. Nightmares are not visions of what ought to be, but they show us what might be, and in politics they can be used in potent ways. Abstract musings can have serious consequences once they enter the political realm, because the good we associate with dreams and reveries is always understood from a particular perspective, not from a view from nowhere. The dream of one may be the nightmare of another. Moreover, what is desirable in the abstract may be impossible to execute in reality for all to enjoy. When we try to reach our dreams, what ends up being is not necessarily what could or ought to have been.

Some broken dreams may be personal but nevertheless reflect a wider societal rupture. After entering the academy, a young academic may be shocked to realize that her vision about scholars and scholarly life was a fantasy. Constitutive of this particular rupture may be the diminished understandings of the roles academics think they are supposed to play today, as well as the roles assigned to them by the administrative and bureaucratic powers to be. The vision shared by many regarding how the academia should be has little to do with how it is. Given the recent evolution of the Finnish national academia, in which the new funding model is the starkest example, it is reasonable to ask whether and to what extent we, as political scientists, are experiencing such a collective rift. What is the image we have of ourselves and how does it differ from the vision about ourselves imposed upon us? Do our broken dreams reflect a societal rupture? What vision should we have; what is the world that ought to be? Is there politics in the political sciences?

The convention’s theme panel focuses on these questions. We invite paper proposals to that panel. We also invite paper and panel proposals on other topics relevant to the political sciences.

Keynote speaker: R.B.J. Walker University of Victoria

Hannes Peltonen, PhD
Chair of the organizing committee

Elina Suomalainen
Secretary of the organizing committee