Critical phenomenology of the we

June 1, 2023 - June 2, 2023
Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen



McGill University
Pennsylvania State University
Vanderbilt University
Technical University of Darmstadt
University of Vienna
University of Copenhagen


University of Copenhagen
Technical University of Darmstadt
University of Copenhagen

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Classical phenomenology offers not only incisive analyses of intentionality, experience, selfhood, empathy and interpersonal understanding, but also quite sophisticated investigations of collective intentionality, affective sharing, social participation, communal experience, and group-identity. Indeed, while starting out with an interest in the individual mind, phenomenologists began exploring dyadic forms of interpersonal relations shortly before the start of World War I, and were deeply engaged in extensive analyses of communal forms of intentionality during the interwar period – at a time when nationalism was on the rise.

Today, the "We" has not lost its place in philosophical, political, or popular discourse. Within the last decade especially, we have witnessed renewed interest in the early phenomenological reflections on group formations, communal experiences, empathy, and fellow-feeling. Does this renewed interest suggest a need to revise our understandings of the "We", or does it attest to its enduring philosophical, social, and political significance/relevance? How have, for instance, perspectives from critical theory and feminist philosophy provided insights into the importance and limitations of questions of belonging, We-experiences, and We-identities? The aim of the current conference is to investigate how this recent critical turn in phenomenology might support, challenge, extend or qualify the classical phenomenological analyses.

Day 1: Thursday 1st June (CET)


09:30 – 10:45

Johanna Oksala - Social Critique at a Crossroads: Marxism and Critical Phenomenology

Commentator: Julia Zaenker


11:00 – 12:15

Alia Al-Saji - Fractures of a debilitating colonial duration : Foreclosed possibility and the phantoms of colonised sociality

Commentator: Christopher Stephan


13:15 – 14:30

Steffen Herrmann - Deep disagreements. A political phenomenology

Commentator: Patrizio Lo Presti


14:45 – 15:45

Sophie Loidolt - Phenomenology of the public sphere - the classical and the critical approach


16:00 – 17:00

Sara Heinämaa Ineinander, Encroachment, Violence and Oppression: Four Political-Critical Concepts of Classical and Existential Phenomenology


Day 2: Friday 2nd June (CET)


10:45 – 12:00

Robert Bernasconi - Can we say "we"?

Commentator: Tristan Hedges


13:00 – 14:15

Lisa Guenther - A critical phenomenology of collective memory

Commentator: Alba Montes Sánchez


14:30 – 15:45

Linda Alcoff - A critical phenomenology of white identity in the era of neo-fascism

Commentator: Gerhard Thonhauser


16:00 – 17:00

Dan Zahavi – Individuality and group identity: Young, Gurwitsch, and Husserl


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