Civil War: Discord Within//A Symposium

A symposium organized by Michèle Lowrie (Classics) and John McCormick (Political Science)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Franke Institute, University of Chicago

To call formally organized violence within a regime “civil war” is never an innocent act. As armed conflict within borders has become a widespread mode of warfare in recent years, civil war has attracted new attention across disciplines. Bellum civile, the Roman concept for partisan warfare among citizens, has lent its name to such disturbances in modern European languages (guerre civile, Bürgerkrieg), but many other terms compete for dominance. What are the stakes of naming violent domestic conflict civil war rather than revolution, or the Greek stasis, or tumult, sedition, insurgency, or guerilla warfare? At what point do we call conflicts civil wars and when do we stop doing so? The recent disturbance in Syria, for instance, goes by civil war in the Western media, but it raged for a full year before earning that appellation. Arabists, however, prefer to characterize it as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and therefore feel civil war is off the mark—a terminological-conceptual controversy that hearkens back at least to the “Spanish Civil War.” Some might choose to designate the Syrian conflict rather a religious war within Islam. Depending on one’s stakes, the name of civil war can legitimate one side or condemn all of the warring parties.

Civil war always entails boundary violation– physical, political, social – whether by crossing geo-political and normative-ideological lines or failing to do so. This means that it confronts notions of cosmic and conceptual order. Where does the division fall between internal and external violence, between different kinds of internal violence? How legitimate is the distinction or indistinction between familial and political violence, between religious and political violence? Why is fratricide a common trope for civil war even when actual brothers hardly ever kill each other? At what point can you say civil war has come to an end?

The symposium is co-sponsored by 3CT, the Franke Institute, and the Neubauer Collegium. The Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust provides generous support for the Lurcy Visiting Professorship at the University of Chicago.


April 28th, 2017

9 AM Coffee

9:30 AM Introduction, Michèle Lowrie (University of Chicago)

10 AM Stathis Kalyvas (Yale), “Civil War Controversies”

11 AM Carsten Hjort Lange (Aalborg Universitet), “Stasis and Bellum Civile: A Difference in Scale?”

Moderated by Julie Mebane (University of Chicago)

Noon to 2 PM Lunch

2 PM David Armitage (Harvard), “Civil War Time: From Grotius to the Global War on Terror”

3 PM Gabriele Pedullà (University of Rome 3), “The Third Paradigm of Civil War. The Machiavellians between Aristotle and Hobbes”

Moderated by Clifford Ando (University of Chicago)

4 PM Coffee

4:30 PM Barbara Vinken (Lurcy Visiting Professor, University of Chicago, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) “Tosca: Civil War and Pastoral”

Moderated by Emma Mackinnon (University of Chicago)

5:30 PM Discussion and closing remarks


David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Harvard University, where he teaches intellectual history and international history.  Prof. Armitage is the author or editor of fifteen books, among them The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000), which won the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Award; The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007), which was chosen as a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year; Foundations of Modern International Thought (2013); and The History Manifesto (co-auth., 2014), a New Statesman Book of the Year.  His latest book, Civil War: A History in Ideas, will appear in early 2017.

Carsten Hjort Lange is Assistant Professor in the Department of Culture and Global Studies, at Aalborg University.  He is the co-editor of Brill’s “Historiography of Rome and its Empire” series; and the author of Triumphs in the Age of Civil War: The Late Republic and the Adaptability of Triumphal Tradition, (Bloomsbury 2016). He is presently completing the book, Mars at Home: the Logic of Civil War in Ancient Roman Society.

Stathis N. Kalyvas is Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence at Yale University.  He is the author of The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge 2006); The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe (Cornell 1996); and Modern Greece (Oxford 2015).  Recent articles include “How Civil Wars Help Explain Organized Crime–And How They Do Not” (Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2015); “Militias in Civil Wars: An Emerging Research Agenda” (co-authored, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2015); “Is ISIS a Revolutionary Group and if Yes, What Are the Implications?” (Perspectives on Terrorism, 2015); and “Does Warfare Matter? Severity, Duration, and Outcomes of Civil Wars” (co-authored, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2014).

Gabriele Pedullà is professor of Italian Literature and Contemporary Literature at the University of Rome 3.  A fellow of Villa i Tatti (the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), he has been visiting professor at Stanford and UCLA.  He published a book on the partisan-writer Beppe Fenoglio (Donzelli 2001), a monograph on Machiavelli’s theory of conflict (Bulzoni 2011), and a new commentary on Machiavelli’s The Prince (Donzelli 2013).  His anthology of partisan short stories, Racconti della Resistenza (Einaudi, 2005) was a best-selling book in Italy.  A work on film is available in English as In Broad Daylight: Movies and Spectators after the Cinema (Verso 2012).  In 2009, he published his first book of fiction, the collection of short stories Lo spagnolo senza sforzo (Einaudi), which was awarded the following prizes: the Premio Mondello Opera Prima, the Premio Verga and the Premio Frontino.  In 2010, he was selected as one of the best 10 Italian writers under 40 by the literary supplement of Il Sole 24 Ore.

Barbara Vinken is Professor of Literature and Romance Studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.  She will be visiting the University of Chicago as the Lurcy Professor (Spring 2017). Honors since 2010 include: Fellow, Wissenschaftkolleg zu Berlin (2015-16); Visiting Fellow, Neubauer Collegium (Winter 2015); Senior Researcher in Residence, Center for Advanced Studies, LMU (2012-13); Franke Professor of the Humanities, Center for Disciplinary Innovation (CDI), University of Chicago (2012); Research Professor, Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL), Berlin (2011); Research Professor, Cluster of excellence Languages of Emotion, FU Berlin (2010); State of Bavaria Order of Merit “Pro meritis scientiae et litterarum” (2010).

She has been a visiting professor at Venice International University; New York University (once in French, once in German and Comparative Literature); Johns Hopkins; Université Michel de Montaigne, Bordeaux; École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris; Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Her numerous books include:

Angezogen. Das Geheimnis der Mode (Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2013) (best-seller)

Bestien. Kleist und die Deutschen (Merve, Berlin 2011)

Flaubert. Durchkreuzte Moderne (Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009) (translated into English by Stanford 2015)

Flauberts „Einfaches Herz“. Eine Legende der Moderne (August Verlag, Berlin 2009)

Neuauflage (Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007)

Die deutsche Mutter. Der lange Schatten eines Mythos (Piper, München 2001)

Mode nach der Mode. Kleid und Geist am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts (Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994) (translated into English by Oxford/New York 2005)

Unentrinnbare Neugierde – Die Weltverfallenheit des Romans: Richardsons „Clarissa“ und Laclos’ „Liaisons dangereuses“ (Rombach, Freiburg 1991)