A most frequently used concept in the human sciences such as anthropology, sociology, political science and history is the concept of a community. In recent times the idea of a community has also acquired a great deal of importance in philosophical debates. It is inevitable that the variety of uses of this idea in diverse academic disciplines will influence each other- in many cases in a tacit or subterranean fashion. Apart from the more or less technical use of the concept of a community in these various disciplines, it has also entered into common everyday vocabulary in phrases such as ‘the international community’, ‘the business community’, ‘the student community’ etc. Since very far reaching arguments in these disciplines centre round the idea of a community and that of its supposed opposite, the individual, it is of the utmost importance that we have before us as clear a map of this concept as possible for clarity of debate.
Another related idea is that of a tribe. Although this idea has a fairly well demarcated use in the discipline of anthropology, its use, like that of the concept of a community, has acquired a very significantly variegated perspective in contemporary intellectual parlance. Occasionally the employment of this concept in the practical political domain can be quite bewildering.
The two concepts of a tribe and a community together play a pervasive role particularly in our political debates within the framework of a democratic structure. There is also a tacit assumption that the two are most intimately connected. And yet there is very little analytic debate about either or about their inter-relationship.
In the context of the very wide use of the idea of a community and that of a tribe, the following aspects of modernity need to be seriously re-examined:
I. Liberalism and its focus on the individual.
II. Universal acceptability of certain values.
III. Context-independence of reasonability and truth.
IV. Moral responsibility of institutions and individuals for past actions of which they were not part. (Such responsibility as ground for “affirmative action”.)
V. The gulf between the so called global community and the geographically delimited tribal community.
In order to acquaint young scholars with these concepts a Winter School is planned from 22 February – 4 March 2010 in Shillong by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. The venue of the winter school is most likely to be North Eastern Hill University and the ICSSR regional Centre. The proposed winter school will be devoted (in the form of lectures, seminars, presentations by participants) to above mentioned issues.
The Winter School will be conducted by various eminent scholars from several disciplines such as of politics, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and literature.
Applications are invited from young College and University teachers/researchers in the discipline of Philosophy (preference will be given to the candidates from North East of India) in the age group of 22 to 40 years.
A batch of 25 participants will be selected from amongst the applicants. Those interested may send their bio-data (that should include their academic qualification, experience, research interest and area of specialization).
All expenses will be borne by the IIAS. Applications for the above programme should reach IIAS on before 20th December 2009. Those selected will be informed by 31 December 2009.
Applications may be sent by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at:
Winter School in Philosophy
Indian Institute of Advanced Study
Shimla 171 005