Critical perspectives on Identity in the European Framework'

Target group

All doctoral research students conducting research on topics related to European Identity, Crisis of Europe and/or of Democracy, Populism, Education in Citizenship and European Policy.


All PhD students

Organising Committee

Partnership between the Doctoral School of Arts Humanities and Law (UGent) and the Doctoral School of Human Sciences (VUB):

Scientific Committee

Mara Santi (UGent)
Georges Martyn (UGent)
Emiliano Acosta (VUB/UGent)
Bart Dessein (UGent)
Marc De Vos (UGent)
Bruno De Wever (UGent)
Jan Orbie (UGent)
Christophe Verbruggen (UGent)


The specialist course Humanities and Law: Critical perspectives on Identity in the European Framework aims at fostering interdisciplinary doctoral training about Europe’s cultural and political identity by means of a critical analysis of concepts such as democracy and rule of law. The approach involves law, philosophy, literature, history, and political science. It draws upon insights and methods from law and the humanities in order to develop a more integrated and engaged perspective on law and politics within the European frame. In doing so, it is meant to give creative answers to related gaps in current European academia already at a doctoral level and specifically the absence of a structured and institutionalised research and teaching perspective that addresses - at the same time - the humanities, political and legal studies. The theme springs from the observation that there is a growing dissatisfaction with some of the features of European societies that were previously regarded as central to them, such as democracy and rule of law. The legitimacy of these political and legal constraints, which were once regarded as non-negotiable, is increasingly challenged by ever bigger and more heterogeneous groups. This gap, sometimes characterized as a democratic deficit, could, we suggest, be addressed by an interdisciplinary approach that seeks a better understanding of how these concepts affect and shape European identity throughout our history. Such a gap is acknowledged both by scholars engaging with humanities and by scholars engaging with law and politics. An engaged and engaging interdisciplinary training program on European identity and identitarian crises as a field of inquiry including humanities, law and politics strikes us as crucial for overcoming scholars’ - and thus citizens’ - alienation from jurisprudence and its central concepts and constraints as well as lawyers’ alienation from the humanistic aspects of law.

Venue and Programme

  • January 26, 2018 - 9h00 - 18h00 - Faculteitsraadszaal (110.009), Arts and Philosophy Faculty, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

Morning session: Law and Humanities
9.00-10-30: Angela Condello: LAW AND HUMANITIES: Critical perspectives on European identity & Law and Humanities. Introductory Lecture.
10.30-11.00: Break
11.00-13.00: Interactive discussion launched by Gertrudis Van De Vijver and Emiliano Acosta: LAW AND PHILOSOPHY: On the relation between Law and Identity on the basis of Kant’s second Critique.

Afternoon session: Law and Literature
14-15:30: Mara Santi and Tiziano Toracca: LAW AND LITERATURE: From “We the people…” to “His Majesty the King of Belgians…”: Narrating Collective Identities in Contemporary Western Societies ?

15:30-16: Break

16-18: interactive discussion launched and moderated by Angela Condello

  • January 27, 2018 - 9h00-18h00 - Faculteitsraadszaal (110.009), Arts and Philosophy Faculty, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

Morning session: Political and Critical Philosophy
9.00-10.30: Jan De Vos: LAW AND CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY: Thinking Digital Europe. A critical perspective on the vicissitudes of public space and identity via the concept of interpassivity.
11.00-13.00: Discussion launched and moderated by Gertrudis Van de Vijver and Emiliano Acosta

Afternoon session: Political philosophy
14.00-15.30: Demokritos Kavadias (VUB): LAW  AND  POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: Do we need civic and citizenship education in Europe?

15.30-16.00: Break

16.00-18.00: General discussion
Launched and moderated by Angela Condello, Gertrudis Van de Vijver, Emiliano Acosta

Registration and information

UGent students, please follow this link:

Students from other universities can register by e-mail to

Registration is free of charge for all PhD students. Registered students will receive the readings for this course via e-mail.


Angela Condello is Temporary Lecturer at the University of Roma Tre and Adjunct Professor at the University of Torino where she also directs LabOnt Law and is a Jean Monnet Module Holder (2017/2020, title of the Chair: Human Rights Culture in the European Union). She worked as of 2013 – and she currently cooperates – with the Human Rights Committee of the Italian Senate of the Republic. In 2015 she has been awarded with a Fernand Braudel Fellowship to conduct research on exemplarity between law and philosophy at the CENJ at the EHESS in Paris. In 2014 she was a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”. In 2015 and 2016 she was Guest Professor (Law and Humanities) at the Law School of the University of Ghent. Since 2013 she teaches the Law and Humanities course in Roma Tre. She coordinates a module on law and gender at Roma Tre ( and is a member of IAPH Italy, the International Association of Women Philosophers ( She is a member of the following editorial boards: Law Text Culture, Law and Literature, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Rivista di Estetica (for which she is editing an issue on law and the faculty of judgment). She is Managing Editor of Brill Research Perspectives in Art and Law. In 2016, she was awarded a Jean Monnet Fund aimed at conducting research on human rights and European identity (with a focus on labor) and at organizing an international conference at the European Parliament. She is the coordinator of the first Law and Humanities program organized by Cardozo Law School with the University of Roma Tre.

Gertrudis Van De Vijver received both her undergraduate and graduate training in philosophy in Ghent University. After receiving her PhD in philosophy in 1988, with a dissertation titled “Doelgerichtheid in cybernetica, connectionisme en cognitivisme. Tussen twee epistemologische opties: naturalisme en constructivisme”, she was post-doctoral researcher and research director at Ghent University until she became a professor at that institution in 2000 (Gewoon Hoogleraar since 2014. She is currently the director of the Centre for History of Philosophy and Continental Philosophy (HICO) at Ghent University. Between 2005 and 2010, she led an interdisciplinary research project that involved philosophers, biologists, bio-engineers and communication scientists, and currently runs, with Emiliano Acosta, the research platform Re-thinking Europe, devoted to the philosophical study of political and legal issues surrounding Europe and the European Union. Her research is mainly concerned with issues of complexity, self-organization and teleology in the life sciences, psychology and the study of cognition, for which she developed a transcendental epistemology, centring on the idea of co-constitution She recently became involved in debates on legal and political issues concerning mental health care.

Emiliano Acosta, Doctor in Philosophy (University of Cologne, 2008), is professor of philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and guest professor at UGent. He is member of the Young Academy of Belgium (Flanders), coordinator of the Latin-American Fichte Society (ALEF) and of the political philosophy network "Re-Thinking Europe". He is also Director of Fichte Online and editor-in-chief of Revista de Estud(i)os sobre Fichte. His research focuses on political philosophy and modern philosophy. His current research project is about mechanisms of exclusion in cosmopolitan discourses in the German High Enlightenment and in contemporary political philosophy.

Jan De Vos: MA in psychology and PhD in philosophy. His main interests are the critique of (neuro)psychology and(neuro) psychologisation. His main publications are: Neuroscience and Critique. Exploring the limits of the neurological turn (Routledge 2015, edited together with Ed Plud), Psychologization and the Subject of Late Modernity (Palgrave, 2014) and Psychologisation in times of Globalisation (Routledge, 2012)

Mara Santi is associate professor of Italian Literature at Ghent University where she was appointed in 2008 after having worked at Basel University (2002-2005) and at Zurich University (2005-2008). She graduated in Italian philology at the University of Pavia where she also wrote her PhD thesis on Gabriele d’Annunzio. She teaches BA courses on the history of Italian poetry, on chivalric poetry of the sixteenth century and on contemporary Italian prose. She also teaches MA courses on short story collection theory. Her main research interests lie in modern and contemporary Italian narrative, narratology, philology, and literary theory, in particular short story collection theory. She is particularly interested in authors who have greatly influenced or shaped Italian culture between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, above all Gabriele d’Annunzio and Italo Svevo, not to mention Carlo Emilio Gadda. She is an active researcher on recent developments in contemporary Italian literature.

Tiziano Toracca (Pietrasanta, Lucca 1980) graduated in Law (Pisa, 2005) and in Italian Language and Literature (Pisa, 2011). He is Temporary Research Fellow at the University of Torino (he is coosupervisor of a Jean Monnet Project on Labour). Since 2013 he is PhD student in Italian Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Perugia and since September 2014 he is Joint PhD at Ghent University with a research project about the Italian neomodernism novel. His research focuses on the Italian contemporary narrative (in particular on Volponi and Pasolini), Modernism and Neomodernism, Law & Humanities (in this field, he gives special attention to the theme of Labour and to the relationship between Literature and Normativity). He is member of the Center for European Modernism Studies (CEMS) and of the Italian Society for Law and Literature (ISLL) and he is editor of «Allegoria». He edited collections of short stories (Sulla nostra pelle, Trasciatti 2010; 15meno1, Zona Franca 2011); he is co-editor of the collected volumes (Il racconto modernista in Italia. Teoria e prassi, Sinestesie 2015; Volponi estremo, Metauro 2015); he published several book chapters in collected volumes, and he published articles and reviews on literary criticism and film in «Allegoria», «Italianistica», «Il Ponte», «Rifrazioni», «Oblio». Since 2012 he held a seminar of creative writing in a psychiatric center (he edited Il cielo non è il mare. Sillabario di scrittura creativa, Tagete Edizioni 2013, collection of texts written by the psychiatric patients).

Dimokritos Kavadias obtained his Ma (‘licentiaat’) and Phd in Political Science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He held teaching positions in political science, sociology, comparative politics and different methodology courses at the Sociology and Political science departments at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and in the educational science and social science departments of the Universiteit Antwerpen. He currently teaches methodology seminars as an assistant professor. He worked as a researcher in the departments of sociology (VUB), political science (VUB), educational science (UA) and social work (UA). In 2005 he was involved, with his colleagues Jo Buelens (VUB), Pierre Verjans (UlG) and Bob Kabamba (UlG) in drafting a new electoral law for the Democratic Republic of Congo. In subsequent years he was involved in preparing a new financing model for flemish schools (Flemish Ministry of Education) and evaluating civic education projects (King Baudouin Foundation). His current research activities focus on political socialization, political psychology, civic education, educational & social effectiveness and educational policy.

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

Presence and active participation.