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COMMENTS 

From Indyref to Indignados: how passions and politics mix

As Scotland heads to the polls, this piece discusses the extent to which emotions have arrived at the heart of contemporary politics – yet we still hesitate to admit it. Emotions can neither be banished nor ignored when we discuss what constitutes political communities, how political decisions should be made and political action springs into being. Yet to embrace the rise of emotional politics without acknowledging how intimately it is and should be entangled with reason equally risks undermining just political action.
Dr Uta Staiger
18 September 2014
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Starts: Sep 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM

10 things you need to know about what will happen if Scotland votes yes

As the Scottish independence referendum draws closer the outcome is hard to predict. Both Westminster politicians and the wider public are asking what – in practical terms – would happen if the Scots were to vote Yes. Robert Hazell offers a 10-point overview of what the road to independence might look like.
Professor Robert Hazell
9 September 2014
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Starts: Sep 9, 2014 12:00:00 AM

The truth is, Scandinavia is neither heaven nor hell

The Nordic countries have received exceptionally good press in the UK - at least until earlier this year, when British travel writer and resident of Denmark, Michael Booth, claimed to dispel the of Scandinavia as the perfect place to live. Many are now confused. Is everything we believed about the social ideals of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland a lie? Well, not entirely but we’re not all drunk serial killers either.
Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen
19 August 2014 More...

Starts: Sep 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Research Grant awarded: Passionate Politics

6 August 2014

24 July 2014
The UCL European Institute, the UCL Centre for Transnational History and UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies have been awarded £10,000 seed funding for a new interdisciplinary research project on “Passionate Politics” from CHIRP.


Passions play a fundamental role in shaping political movements and ideologies, providing the emotional basis of individual and social identities. Our historical understanding of key moments of social change remains impoverished if we fail to take into account the importance of grief, for example, as a response to social upheaval, the role of love and empathy in the creation of political and social solidarities, or the roots of political dissent in anger. The tradition of thinking about politics, stretching from the Stoics to Kant and Rawls, has tended to view the passionate nature of human beings with suspicion if not outright hostility. The passions sit uncomfortably with the idea of a social contract, for example, that is meant to be the product of reason. Until recently, the passions drew the attention of political theorists and philosophers above all because of their capacity to wreak havoc in the social order. Interdisciplinary approaches to conceptualizing affects have recently opened up a new way of understanding the human. Our project will draw on the unique opportunity that this ‘affective turn’ has brought to other fields by returning the passions to the study of politics.

The core group of the project consists of Tim Beasley-Murray (SSEES), Dina Gusejnova (CTH), Axel Körner (CTH) and Uta Staiger (EI). Over the next three years, the group will run a number of workshops, a reading group and an international conference. To support its research as well as public engagement with the project, the team will create a digital archive “Collecting Emotions”, featuring text, images, music, film and interviews.

We are grateful to the UCL Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects (CHIRP) for its support.