Second Annual International Conference: Legitimation and Narrative Communication

The second annual conference of the Frankfurt Cluster of Excellence ‘The Formation of Normative Orders’ is devoted to the topic of ‘justification narratives’. This concept is specifically intended to facilitate access to the historical dimension of orders of justification, that is to the narratives which become consolidated into legitimations of social structures and institutions. These narratives do not form homogeneous blocks but must be analysed in their diversity, conflicts and dynamics.

With the catchword ‘justification narrative’, the annual conference will address one of the central objects of study of the Cluster. This term refers to justifications of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of normative orders which are structured in the form of narratives. The ‘crystallisation’ of justification narratives out of more comprehensive discourses is as much the focus of attention as is the examination of how to deal with the fact that justification narratives form sequences. Thus justification narratives must often comprise a historical and potentially self-relativising dimension, without for this reason sacrificing their claim to validity.

The concept of justification narratives is more or less well established in the various cooperating disciplines. As such the conference represents, on the one hand, the experiment of examining its applicability and its [explanatory] potential in the context of different disciplines; on the other hand, it will address the different dimensions exhibited by such narratives. The latter range from aesthetic qualities, which are potentially as important in determining the acceptance of a justification as are its contents, to the use of competing justification narratives in concrete peace negotiation situations or in economic policy making.

Under the leadership of Research Area 2 ‘The Historicality of Normative Orders’, the guiding theme of this year’s conference, ‘justification narratives’, will be explored in five panels. On the first day, the opening panel will bring a historical perspective to bear on the role of justification narratives in transitional periods. The focus of the second panel will be on the question of the role of justification narratives in political negotiation processes. The third panel will deal with the importance of human rights as a justification narrative from the perspective of legal studies. The second day of the conference will open on Saturday morning with the philosophical panel, which will be concerned with aesthetic dimensions of justification narratives. The conference will conclude on Saturday afternoon with a panel on the status of justification narratives in economics.

As already last year, lectures will be delivered by prominent guests representing the different disciplines participating in the Cluster. Thus it gives us great pleasure to welcome to Frankfurt the social anthropologist Harri Englund from Cambridge, the legal scholar Robert Howse from New York University, the philosopher Michael Hampe from the ETH Zurich, the historian Hans Kippenberg from Bremen and the economic historian Keith Tribe from Sussex. It is by no means easy to allocate each of our guests to one particular discipline, from most of them are at home in at least two fields – which is a good example of how research is understood and practised within the Cluster. In addition to interdisciplinarity, however, the Cluster has a special interest in a dialogue with the public and with practical politics. Thus this year we re-gard ourselves as fortunate that, in Gunter Pleuger, we have been able to attract a figure who has served as a diplomat, as the German permanent representative to the United Nations and as state secretary in the Foreign Ministry, before accepting the post as President of the European University Viadrina. From among the members of the Cluster, the historian Hartmut Leppin, the political scientist Nicole Deitelhoff, the legal scholar Günter Frankenberg and the philosopher Martin Seel will contribute lectures to the panels.

We look forward to interesting lectures and exciting debates!

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