Lecture by Dr. De Roover: ' On the Cultural Migration of Ideas'

What happens to ideas like, say, those of democracy, freedom or secularism, when they travel from one cultural setting to another? Do such normative political ideas just take ‹multiple forms› as some postmodern thinkers have suggested? Or is something more at stake?


The lecture is part of the 'University Research Priority Program (URPP) Asia and Europe' of the University of Zurich.



type (discipline):

Lecture / Presentation / Debate (Social Sciences | Comparative Science of Cultures)


Dr. Jakob De Roover
phone: 0032 9 264 93 72

Mon, November 21st 2011

14:15 till 16:00 On the Cultural Migration of Ideas read more

By taking the example of notions of secularism in Europe and India, I will present a tentative answer to this question (see higher). This answer consists of a hypothesis on the process whereby the central norms of the liberal secular state crystallized in Europe and then spread elsewhere. It argues that the secularization of western political thought has not produced independent rational principles, but transformed theological ideas into the ‹topoi› of a culture. Like all such topoi, the principles of the liberal state depend on other clusters of ideas present in Western societies. When they migrate to new settings, the absence of these surrounding ideas presents fundamental obstacles to the interpretation and elaboration of such normative principles.


University of Zurich
room: lecture room WIE H 02 (3rd floor)
Wiesenstrasse 7-9
8008 Zurich


Dr. Jakob De Roover (Presenter)
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