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Da European Alternatives / Interview with Seyla Benhabib


The Rights of others, copertina di un libro di Seyla Benhabib. Euroalternatives è un progetto che partendo da una visione sociale dell’Europa si propone di stimolare la partecipazione dal basso alla costruzione politica del continente come paese. L’intervista a Seyla Benhabib di Giuliano Battiston si trova anche in italiano sul sito http://www.euroalter.com

Introduciamo la prima parte di una intervista a Seyla Benhabib, che è presente per intero sul sito di European Alternatives per la quale è stata scritta da Giuliano Battiston, così come pubblicata sulla home del sito

www.euroalter.com (sul quale l’articolo è disponibile anche in italiano) .  

Seyla Benhabib insegna Scienze Politiche e Filosofia all’Università di Yale. Si è occupata molto della ridefinizione della cultura, della democrazia e del concetto di confine nell’epoca dei migranti che è quella attuale.

Si consideri questa una introduzione ad articoli in altre lingue europee che si affiancheranno a quelli in italiano, Skapegoat sta coinvolgendo collaboratori italiani e stranieri.

 Ma questo articolo è un servizio di European Alternatives e la pubblicazione di questi paragrafi è da considerarsi un invito all’approfondimento del sito del progetto citato.

Interview with Seyla Benhabib


di    Giuliano Battiston

Seyla Benhabib is a professor of political science and philosophy at Yale, and director of the program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, and a well-known contemporary philosopher. She is the author of several books, most notably about the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Jürgen Habermas. Benhabib is well known for combining critical theory with feminist theory.

 GB: Some people and scholars maintain that restrictions on immigration are necessary, in order to protect a country’s political and legal culture and its constitutional principles. Instead, you have often asserted that the presence of individuals whose cultural identities differ from the majority can strengthen a society’s constitutional laws – leading “to a deepening and widening of the schedule of rights in liberal democracies” – thanks to what you call a “jurisgenerative politics”. Could you explain it to us?

SB: According to me, an immigrant person introduces a new ubjectivity into the host society, and brings in a set of new demands. If we look through some of the most sensitive questions recently to have come out across Europe – the hijab, polygamy and the debate about the setting of courts or legislations consistent with sharia – we realize that these cases emerge from a profound cultural challenge that could be productive. Democratic liberalism founds itself on principles and values: the constitution fixes some principles, which in their turn reflect fundamental values about nature and human dignity.

It is anyway necessary to belongbear in mind that values are abstract and place themselves on what we could call a regulatory level. In every specific case, we should identify some values and principles that are more fundamental than others and, according to them, handle different ways of living within our cultures. Obviously, there can be principles of incompatibility: for instance, I do not accept the principle of polygamy, because I believe it is not egalitarian, it violates gender equality and women’s dignity. But there are also occasions when our disagreement must be subordinated to attempts to find a “human” solution to certain problems.

It is just in these attempts that a jurisgenerative practice is produced: there is a “jurisgenerative praxis” whenever there is a confrontation with new subjectivities and demands, which allow us – or forces us – to rethink the true basis of our constitutional principles, and sometimes pushes us towards a new and diverse articulation of our fundamental values. This usually occurs when we discuss issues such as equality, when we question ourselves about the legitimacy of wearing hijab at workplaces or the legitimacy of homosexual marriages.

(il resto dell’articolo di Giuliano Battiston può essere letto su www.euroalter.com , nessun amico dell’Europa è un concorrente, NdR)