april, 2024

25apr - 27apr 255:30 pmapr 27Thinking with Bourdieu Today: Interdisciplinary and Transnational Approaches

Event Details

Thursday, April 25

Location: New York University, Remarque Institute (60 5th Ave 8th Floor New York, NY 10011)

5:30 p.m.: Keynote Lecture by Gisèle Sapiro (EHESS)
Extending Bourdieu’s Research Program to Bridge the Humanities and the Social Sciences
Chair: Camille Robcis (Columbia)

Friday, April 26
New York University, Remarque Institute

10:00 a.m.: Literary Theory and Bourdieusian Critical Approaches
Chair: Emily Apter (NYU)

The panel will focus on how Bourdieu’s seminal notions of field (“champ”) and “symbolic and cultural capital” continue to inflect what John Guillory has recently characterized as the work of “professing criticism.” The panel will consider the impact of these concepts on contemporary paradigm-formation in the comparative humanities and literary sociology, and on the politics of field-definition today in their relation to literary theory and critical approaches to class, social mobility, language and transnationalism.

John Guillory (NYU), “Degrees of Separation: Some Notes on Social Capital”
Sylvaine Guyot (NYU), “Literary Metabolization: From Mapping to Molding the Field”
Morgane Cadieu (Yale), “The Bourdieu of the Novel”
Tristan Leperlier (CNRS-Columbia), “Plurilingual Literary Fields in a Transnational Context”

1:30 p.m.: Habitus (in-)flexibility: Thinking with and Beyond Bourdieu about Individual Class/Gender/Race Mobilities?
Chair: Frédéric Viguier (NYU)

Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the social space and its embodiment in individuals through their habitus did not share the optimism of his Fordist era contemporaries regarding social progress. Bourdieu was skeptical of the possibility of individual upward social mobility through expanded access to culture and education. His famous notion of “class defector” (transfuge de classe) captures his view that very few people experience upward social mobility, and when they do, their experiences are often tormented – they painfully need to reinvent themselves and embody new patterns of action and perception. Two decades after Bourdieu’s death, this panel engages with Bourdieu’s insistence on the habitus’s limited capacity to be reshaped, and how that conception might (or not) be challenged by recent developments, both in sociological and historical scholarship, and in the social world. How are we to think about habitus (in)-flexibility when it comes to class, or gender, or race?

Muriel Darmon (CNRS-CESSP), “How can Habitus be Trans-Formed?”
Mustafa Emirbayer (Univ. of Wisconsin), “Racial Habitus and the Life Course”
Emmanuel Beaubatie (CNRS-CESSP), “Moving across the Social Space of Gender: Reflections from a Study on Gender Mobility in Trans Paths”
Chantal Jacquet (Univ. Paris I), “Beyond the Notion of Class Defector: The Concept of Transclass”

4:00 p.m: Historical Sociology / Intellectual History
Chair: Stefanos Geroulanos (NYU)

Field theory has served to renew historical sociology, and to better account for the structural transformation of certain domains (the relatively autonomous fields), which may not be synchronized. This is notably the case for the historical sociology of the human and social sciences, which has been burgeoning following Bourdieu’s Homo academicus (for instance in the work by Johan Heilbron and George Steinmetz) and which has come closer to intellectual history. Meanwhile, a new and comprehensive way of working in the history and sociology of ideas has recently been developed (in an NYU-EHESS collaboration spearheaded by Stefanos Geroulanos and Gisèle Sapiro that was just published as a Routledge Handbook) in order to obviate several longstanding gaps that have prevented fruitful interdisciplinary and international dialogues. Pushing global intellectual history forward, this approach uses methodological innovations in the history of concepts, gender history, imperial history, and history of normativity, many of which have emerged out of intellectual history in recent years, while foregrounding the role of Bourdieusian field theory for delimiting objects of study but also in studying transnational history and migration of persons and ideas.

Johan Heilbron (Uppsala Univ.), “Intellectual History as Historical Sociology?”
Stephanie Mudge (UC Davis), “The Transnational Historical Sociology of Commodified Democracy: A Field Approach”
Gil Eyal (Columbia), “Trust Methods: Accounting for Who, What, When and How to Trust”

Saturday, April 27
New York University, La Maison Française

9:00 a.m.: Transnational Fields and comparativism
Chair: Gisèle Sapiro

Much of Bourdieu’s original work was developed in single national case studies. Comparative cross-national research has helped to develop a better understanding of variations in national field configurations. Transnational research has also developed since the 1990s, challenging the nation state as relevant unit. Bourdieu himself devoted to this question a theoretical and methodological reflection that was published last year in the volume Impérialismes, that will appear in English translation with Polity Press. Scholars in this panel will discuss a range of approaches and case studies (journalism, contemporary art, transitional justice) that extend and challenge Bourdieu’s framework.

Rodney Benson (NYU), “Heteronomy’s Multiplicity: Implications for the Generation of Public Service News in a Moment Of Civic Crisis”
Larissa Buchholz (Northwestern), “Theorizing the Geographic Dimension of Multi-Scalar Global Fields: Insights from the Global Visual Arts”
Jason Ferguson (UCLA), “Search for a Method: From Social Space to Fields in a Multi-Scalar Global Sociology”

11:00 a.m.: Postcolonialism and fields
Chair: Thomas Dodman (Columbia)

If Bourdieu’s social theory is not necessarily postcolonial, it is a child of the post-colonial moment, a research program born in the twilight of French colonialism and the crucible of Algerian independence. This panel will explore this fundamentally historical grounding of Bourdieu’s thought and new ways of deploying its concepts a to the study of Empire and postcolonial situations, through state power, language policies, the media and cultural production more in general.

George Steinmetz (Univ. of Michigan), “Context, Field, Text: From ‘Decolonizing’ Sociology to Writing its History”
Madeline Bedecarré (Davidson College), “The Sociological Turn in Postcolonial Literary Studies: Field Theory & African Literature”
J. Siguru Wahutu (NYU), “African Journalists: What’s Bourdieu Got To Do With Them?”



25 (Thursday) 5:30 pm - 27 (Saturday) 12:00 pm


Remarque Institute