The Politics of Emotions. Historical Insights and Contemporary Challenges

January 29, 2019 - January 30, 2019
Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society, University of Minho, Portugal

Auditorium ILCH
Braga 4704-553

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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Universidade do Minho
Universidade do Minho

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Political upheavals in recent years have raised worries about the role emotions should play in politics. The Brexit referendum and the US presidential elections in 2016, the rise of populist and authoritarian movements and the resurgence of independence movements in Europe, the factional  disregard for objective facts in the post-truth era,  are all examples of the multifaceted and potentially unpredictable ways emotions shape politics: they catalyze participation in political struggles leading to partisan politics, influence collective deliberation sparking negative reactions against specific groups, promote uncritical identification with political leaders thus triggering forms of caesarism. However, if on the one hand they can encourage biased, unreflective and irrational behaviors, emotions may also play a positive role in the public life, for instance, forging bonds of solidarity in the name of important political values, such as emancipation, equality and justice. 

More in general, emotions constitute an inevitable dimension of politics to the extent that they are entangled with our beliefs and judgments. In helping establishing a connection between general principles and particular judgments, they provide the motivational ground to move from belief to action. 

Scholars in the humanities and social sciences have been sensitive to this political juncture and showed a renewed interest for the study of emotions, passions and moral sentiments in the realm of politics. Important questions have been brought to the fore, such as the status of the emotions as vehicles of knowledge, the extra-rational bases of political attachments, the relevance of the aesthetic dimension in structuring the political space. Political emotions have been also evoked to critically scrutinize the rational foundation of the political order, often implicit in most of current liberal theories. Original contributions in the history of political thought have revived the significance of political emotions in ancient and modern political thinkers, especially with regards to political agency, judgment, and freedom.

Taking cue from these developments, the fourth edition of the Braga Colloquium in the History of Moral and Political Philosophy will explore both the historical and normative significance of emotions, feelings, passions and affects, in politics. Among the questions that we will address are the following:  

- How have political emotions been conceived in the history of political thought? 

- What is the role of political emotions in political judgment and deliberation? 

- Can we think of political emotions as a foundation of political participation? 

- Are certain models of governments better than others to curb the destructive effect on emotions? 

Can we conceive of constitutionalism (liberal or republican) as a mode of government that promotes the constructive aspect of civic passions? 

- What are the implications of the current affective turn in social sciences and humanities on our understanding of political emotions?  

Abstract Submission

To propose a paper, please upload an abstract of no more  than 500 words, along with 3-5 keywords and a short 2-3 bio,  at the following link:

The deadline for submission is  December 2, 2018. 

For queries, contact: [email protected] 

  For further information, visit the confererence website: 

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January 13, 2019, 6:45pm +01:00

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