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Max Weber Occasional Lectures

occasional lectures page

The Max Weber Occasional Lectures are informal seminars by distinguished scholars invited by members of the Programme as the academic year develops.

The aim of this initiative is to enrich the academic life of the Programme and the EUI by taking advantage of scholars passing through Europe and Italy and inviting them to stop over in Florence and deliver a talk about their most recent research and upcoming books. Occasional Talks are also given by scholars who happen to be visiting the EUI for other purposes already, such as a thesis defense.

Occasional Talks may also be linked to a Multidisciplinary Workshop organized by Fellows, one of the Thematic Groups,  an ad hoc reading group, or some other activity. Fellows not listed in any of the Thematic Research Groups are particularly encouraged to put forward the names of suitable candidates for Occasional Talks.

Upcoming Max Weber Occasional Lecture

robertsSpecial Lecture to mark the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth 

William Clare Roberts (McGill University)

"Marx’s politics of freedom"

6 November 2018, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Emeroteca

Chair: Bruno Leipold (MWF-SPS)



This talk examines and evaluates Marx’s commitments to three notions of freedom: (1) freedom as non-domination, (2) freedom as open-ended self-development, and (3) freedom as self-determination or autonomy.

I argue that the first notion, freedom as non-domination, motivates Marx’s mature critique of capitalism and his embrace of the international workers’ movement. His commitment to the second notion, freedom as self-development or self-realization, is fundamentally a vision of ethical perfection, and plays only a tightly circumscribed role in Marx’s political thought. Finally, the notion of freedom as self-determination is, despite a long interpretive tradition, at odds with Marx’s understanding and endorsement of democracy.

Contrary to 150 years of Marx reception, Marx’s most distinctive and powerful contributions are not to the theorization of “positive liberty,” but to the pursuit of freedom from domination. 

About the speaker

William Clare Roberts is associate professor of political science at McGill University. His book, Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital (Princeton, 2017), won the 2017 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize for exemplifying the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition



John Foot (University of Bristol, Fernand Braudel Fellow EUI)

"The Archipelago? Writing a History of Post-War Italy"

20 November 2018, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Sala del Capitolo
Chair: Lucy Riall (HEC Professor)




How can we understand and tell the story of post-war Italy? How can we transmit our academic learning and expertise to a wider, non-specialist audience? Is there a master-key for understanding individual countries and their trajectories since 1945?

This talk will aim to address these questions through an analysis of the methodologies and analyses adopted for the book The Archipelago. Italy since 1945 (Bloomsbury, 2018. Laterza (Forthcoming) 2019). It will look at typical tropes used when trying to understand Italy - Italy as 'backward', Italy as 'marginal', Italy as 'lacking' various aspects often attributed to other states - legality, national identity, efficiency, unity.

The talk will also look at the debates between micro- and macro- history, and at academic and non-academic forms of writing and communication. A further key area will be that of chronologies - when are the 'breaks' in national histories and when are the moments of continuity?

The talk will be in the context of an understanding of previous attempts to write histories or studies of post-war Italy, and the dominant influence of Gramscian theory within the formation of many historians both within Italy and abroad.

Academic pressures in many universities preclude or even punish general works aimed at a wider public, and these institutional features driving research and publication. Thus, one of the key ways in which academics and the wider world have been able to interact is being closed down, institutionally, despite emphasis on 'impact' and 'public engagement'. This talk willl also provide some reflections on these trends and their influence on academic research.

About the speaker

John Foot is a British historian specialised on Italian History. His research covers a number of aspects of Italian social history. 

He has published on the Italian Labour Mouvement after WWI, popular cultures related to sport (football and cycle racing), the history and memory of the radical psychiatry movement in Italy which eventually closed down the asylums, and more.






Schmulik Nili (Northwestern University)

Title tbc

8 January 2019, 17:00-18:30

Badia, Emeroteca

Read the abstract of past MWP Occasional Lectures


Page last updated on 11 October 2018