08 September 2023

CALL FOR PAPERS: International conference on Constitutional Communities (KU Leuven, 8-9 February 2024) (DEADLINE: 25 October 2023).


(Source: KU Leuven)

We received notice of a call for papers for a conference on constitutional communities at KU Leuven in February 2024.

Call for Papers

International conference on

Constitutional Communities

       When: 8-9 February 2024

       Where: KU Leuven (Institute of Philosophy and Faculty of Law), Belgium

       Deadline for abstract submissions: 25 October 2023 


Today almost all countries are “constitutional communities” in a broad sense: their constitution provides the basic framework for their common life. This link between community and constitution is increasingly recognized and there is a growing awareness of the potential of constitutions for societal integration. Jürgen Habermas, with his notion of constitutional patriotism, made the case for a collective identity that does not rely on ethnic nationalism. At the same time, the belief that a constitutional document can be the source of a liberal collective identity has been criticized from various angles. A constitution is typically anchored at the national level, while in a globalized world social integration happens at many different levels. Moreover, courts have used the concept of “constitutional identity” to justify divergent interpretations of the rule of law and human rights and to uphold populist claims. Indigenous people sometimes see constitutional recognition as a new form of assimilation. And some critics have claimed that the concept is empty and abstract: constitutional principles are mostly the same across borders so how can they inspire a sense of community?

These developments raise important questions. How do constitutions create communities? Can they really do so? And should they? These questions can be answered from different disciplinary perspectives. Scholars in constitutional law and in the history of law have studied the working of constitutions since long. But legal and political philosophy should also weigh in, as philosophers from the past and the present have amply studied the relation between written laws and community. The issue of constitutional identity can also be approached from an empirical sociological perspective or even from a literary perspective, as it is ultimately the agency of a text that is at stake here. 

By engaging in an interdisciplinary dialogue about constitutions and community, this conference aims to explore the impact that constitutions have and can have in the functioning of communities, and to contribute to our understanding of the concept of constitutional identity.

Possible paper topics: 

- Constitutions and community building

- National and/or constitutional identity as legal instruments 

- The relation between constitutional identity and affiliated notions (sovereignty, constituent power, representation, …) 

- Constitutional recognition (of minorities, historically oppressed groups, rights of nature, …)

- Constitutional change 

- Specific philosophers on the role of constitutions 

- Constitutions as a literary genre

Submitting your abstract:

If you are interested in presenting your work at this conference, please submit an anonymized abstract (max. 400 words, in .doc, .docx or .pdf format) along with your name, title, and affiliation via e-mail to Ana Van Liedekerke ( The actual presentations can be 15 to 20 minutes long. Abstract should be submitted on 25 October 2023 (CET) at the latest. If accepted, you will be invited to develop your abstract into a full paper of around 5000 words; papers will be precirculated to all conference participants. We welcome submissions both from junior and from senior scholars. We especially encourage scholars from underrepresented groups to apply.

Conference Fee: There will be a registration fee of 75 euro to participate in the conference (40 euro for those attending just one day and reduced prices for KU Leuven students) and an additional fee of 75 euro for those wanting to attend the conference dinner.

Organizers: Raf Geenens, Stefan Sottiaux, Christophe Maes, Roger Ventura Cossin, Ana Van Liedekerke.

This conference is organized by RIPPLE (Research in Political Philosophy and Ethics Leuven) and the Leuven Centre for Public Law. It is part of an interdisciplinary research project on constitutional identity, jointly hosted by KU Leuven's Institute of Philosophy and KU Leuven's Faculty of Law and funded by FWO, the Research Foundation Flanders.


All info here

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