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Civilization Gone Awry: Culture, Capitalism, and Conflict in Contemporary Europe

Thursday, February 20, 2014
12:00 AM
1636 School of Social Work Building, University of Michigan

This lecture is part of the Conversations on Europe series presented by the Center for European Studies and co-sponsored by the Modern Greek Program.

The lecture will be given by Dr. Peter Bratsis, City University of New York. 

Taking up key arguments and concepts from Norbert Elias, this talk will focus on how changes in popular culture as well as the temporal and spatial characteristics of capitalism in Europe have undone the civilizing process as understood by Elias. Economic integration increasingly has become a source of conflict and antagonism rather than a way of cementing political alliances. Similarly, cultural patterns have led to a turn away from tempering our own animality and short-term interests so as to ensure ever-stronger forms of social cooperation and long term stability. As a consequence, the ability of European societies to reproduce themselves both individually and as a cohesive group is now is doubt.

Peter Bratsis teaches political science at the City University of New York. He is a founding editor of the journal Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination, author of Everyday Life and the State (Paradigm, 2006) and editor, with Stanley Aronowitz, of Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered, (Minnesota, 2002). His most recent (2013) publication is "Political Corruption in the Age of Transnational Capitalism: From the Relative Autonomy of the State to the White Man's Burden" in Historical Materialism.