Contemporary conditions of critique: power, value(s), economy


20 - 22 Sep 2017


PRIO, Hausmanns gate 3, Oslo


Nina Boy (PRIO) and Kristin Asdal (UiO)




Covadonga Morales Bertrand:


Introduction (Kristin Asdal and Nina Boy)

Critique of power and power of critique (Nina Boy)

Critique of value and value of critique (Brett Christophers)

Valuation and critique (Kristin Asdal)

Security, critique and normative orders (Kristoffer Liden)

Performance and critique (Angus Cameron)

Performativity and critique (Fabian Muniesa)

This course presents a cross-disciplinary exploration of the present condition(s) of critique with respect to power, value(s) and economy. These interrelations are important also for disciplines that do not directly engage with the economy, including security studies and peace and conflict studies, because they are implicated in the formation of epistemic and normative orders characteristic for different eras.

Course Description:

In modern thought, critique is invoked as a particular relation to power: critique stands for the empowerment of the enlightened subject holding power to account, a premise continued by the tradition of capitalist critique. Over the last decades, performativity and ANT have emerged as influential alternatives to critique, alleging the modern critic to perform a self-defeating empowerment of the object of contestation. By some these have been experienced as liberation from the foreclosed accusation of anti-capitalism, allowing for change in the small and concrete. Others have accused these of an unwitting alliance with capitalism, and the financial crisis in particular has renewed the prominence of capitalism in theorising and critiquing contemporary relations of power and inequality.

Against the backdrop of the cross-disciplinary debate between critique and anticritique, the course will discuss important contemporary phenomena, such as the changing value of knowledge from an end in itself to a means to social or economic impact; the crisis in the measure of value and disappearance of traditional grounds of critique associated with contemporary finance; the declining value of evidence in the so-called post-factual reality; and the politicisation of values as normative foundation of critique.

The course does not require a set position of critique but will work with students to refine the explicit and implicit assumptions of their approach. The 3-day course addresses PhD students across the social sciences, law and humanities and will be limited to 12 participants.

The format and curriculum of last year's course are still indicative. Session outlines will be updated by the end of May.

The course is organised in collaboration with NordSTEVA and SOURCE




​The deadline for applications is 9 June 2017. We advise waiting with the application until the course syllabus has been updated in May.

Submission of essay proposal: 8 October 2017

Submission of essay: 8 December 2017


​The course awards an optional 5 ECTS (according to the standards of the University of Oslo) upon full participation and the satisfactory completion of a course essay. Writing the essay is not mandatory. Students may also consult with their universities whether ECTS credits may be obtained upon active participation. A certificate of attendance will be issued for all participants. 

All participants are expected to read the course literature in advance and participate actively in the course sessions. To the extent possible the literature will be made available to students prior to the course.  

Those writing essays are asked to submit an essay proposal including a research question or title and essay plan of 300-500 words with reference to relevant course literature by 8 October 2017. Full essays of 4000-5000 words are to be handed in by 8 December 2017. Essay submission should be indicated in the application form but is not binding. 

Essay proposals and full submissions should be send to Covadonga Morales-Bertrand ( Extensions may be requested in case of an emergency or illness (with doctor's certificate) but will not be given after the deadline. Essays will be evaluated by course leaders within two months of submission.


To apply, please fill in the application form. IMPORTANT: In the section 'Other comments', please provide 1) a brief description of your doctoral research and the theories you are working with and 2) briefly state how you would currently characterise your position of critique. Alternatively, describe what draws you to the theories you are working with or interested in.

PhD candidates will receive priority but graduate students and post-docs from relevant disciplines may also apply. Current members of the Research School on Peace and Conflict are only required to register but should also provide the above-mentioned information.

There is no course fee but participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation cost. A number of accommodation stipends for the near-by Anker Hotel are available to PhD students who do not have access to funding for course participation through their universities. Please indicate your request for an accommodation stipend in the application form.

If you are not affiliated with any university, please write your current occupation

Provided that you cannot get the costs covered by your university or other funding schemes

Please address any application questions to Covadonga Morales Bertrand.