CFP: The Solitary Being – Symposium in the Botanical Garden

Venue: Botanical Garden of the University of Bern

Location: Bern, Switzerland

Event Date/Time: May 26, 2011 End Date/Time: May 27, 2011
Abstract Submission Date: Feb 15, 2011
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Fifth Anniversary International Symposium "The Solitary Being"

Organized by: Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society (SCIS)

Location: Orangery of the Botanical Garden of the University of Bern, Switzerland

Date: 26-27 May 2011

The "solitary man" is a staple of popular culture as much as philosophy. From medieval religious hermits to people medically diagnosed with autism or antisocial personality disorder, from the lone wolf of American frontier romanticism to the loner running amok in a university, from Ibn Bajjah/Avempace's "The Governance of the Solitary" to Nietzsche's "Ãœbermensch", from the reclusive artist to Japan's tens of thousands of "hikikomori" voluntarily choosing to withdraw from society, examples are not limited to the arguably individualistic modern West, but rather seem to range across all societies, cultures, and times. There always have been those who do not fit the stereotype of man as a social being. Nevertheless, people who keep to themselves and do not engage in collaborative social action tend to be overlooked by social and political researchers and are therefore understudied.

The solitary human being (male or female) has been one of the interests of the Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society (SCIS) since its foundation in 2006. To celebrate our fifth anniversary in 2011, we will be organizing a rare symposium on "The Solitary Being" in the unique settings of a Botanical Garden. Previous SCIS symposia drew participants from the world over. Our anniversary symposium is set to be equally international and interdisciplinary in scope. We invite affiliated academics, independent scholars, and doctoral students and candidates from a wide range of disciplines, such as Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Political Theory, Political Science, Cultural Studies, Literature, Theology, Religious Studies, Psychology, Cognitive Science, Law, History, Education, and so on. Papers may cover any and all aspects of "the solitary being" and/or his or her interaction with the (social) world. Papers may be theoretical and/or empirical in nature. Work in progress is welcome too.

We expect that 15-20 participants will be attending this workshop-style symposium. Over the course of two full days, each presenter will have 45-60 minutes (depending on the number of participants) to present his or her paper and discuss it with all others. The symposium starts early on Thursday and ends Friday late in the afternoon. Due to the small size of the symposium, all participants are expected to attend both days (unless an exception has been agreed in advance, i.e. for religious observance on Friday).

As with all SCIS events, no fees will be charged from participants, and no funding is available to cover participants' travel and accommodation expenses. We will be glad to issue letters of acceptance on request to assist participants in securing funding from their usual sources. The city of Bern – Switzerland's capital –, is connected to both the Zurich and Geneva international airports by direct train (approx. one hour from Zurich, two hours from Geneva) and offers a choice of accommodation. The historic town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Botanical Garden of the University of Bern is arranged in descending terraces on the slopes of the river Aar, a tributary of the Rhine. On more than two hectares, it showcases vegetation from various ecological zones, in greenhouses and outdoors, such as alpine plants from Europe, Asia, and North America, tropical and subtropical plants (including orchids, palms, ferns, and cacti), Mediterranean, cold steppe, and semi-desert plants, woodland, water, medical, and fibre plants. Around six thousand plant species will make our anniversary symposium a feast of the senses, forms, fragrances, and colours. Further information will be provided to confirmed participants.

Please send your proposal to:

Deadline: 15 February 2011

Later submissions may still be accepted, but early submission is strongly advised and proposals may be accepted as they come in.


Erich Kofmel
Managing Director / Research Professor of Political Theory
Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society (SCIS)

Postal address:
Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society
1200 Geneva

SCIS is an international association under Swiss law.
Founded 2006 at the University of Sussex.