In the tumultuous early years of the Weimar Republic, Carl Schmitt published his Political Theology: Four Essays on Sovereignty (1922). This international symposium revisits the old question of “political theology,” exactly 100 years after Schmitt’s seminal text, in a new time of political crisis. To what extent is political theology still capable of speaking to the world of 1922?
To be sure, our political context uncannily resembles the period in which Schmitt wrote Political Theology – political crises of legitimacy, financial crashes, right-wing nationalisms, anti-liberal populisms and even a global pandemic. However, we are also facing a set of entirely new and singular political challenges that Schmitt could not have anticipated and which may lie beyond the reach of any “political theology.” In returning to the political theological archive, this symposium will seek to extend it to consider such critical contemporary issues as: Europe, Covid-19, climate change, immigration and refugee crises, neoliberal capitalism and globalization, big tech and data, religious fundamentalisms, new processes of racialization and gender issues.
In this symposium, we bring together world-leading figures in different disciplines (philosophy, theology and religious studies, politics and international relations, comparative literature) to re-pose the question of political theology in the present. What, if anything, does political theology still have to say to the world of 2022 and beyond? Is it worth trying to construct new political theologies of institutions, economy, climate change, immigration, racialization, and gender or do we need to imagine different approaches? Finally, what is left of political theology 100 years after Schmitt — or is it now time to write its obituary?