(PLN1) Understanding Social Transition Through the Lens of Soft Universalism

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This keynote address was held as part of the 2022 Canadian Sociological Association Conference / Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Congress.

Guest Speaker: Dr. Sari Hanafi, President – International Sociological Association

Moderator: Dr. Abdie Kazemipur, President of Canadian Sociological Association, Professor of Sociology and Chair of Ethnic Studies, University of Calgary.

In the course of humanity, pandemics (leprosy, plagues, cholera, etc.) have induced deep societal changes in all social, economic, and political spheres. The COVID-19 pandemic as a social phenomenon is no exception. How to understand these transitions through the lens of universalism? How to reconcile the local and the universal? What kind of universalism?  In this talk, I propose the concept of soft universalism, a type of universalism that is: a) the outcome of a quasi-cross-cultural consensus; b) not a teleological concept, but a historical experience that gets its normativity as a result of a collective historical learning process; and c) conceived as an imaginary with a general wide flexibility, rather than a model to be exported.

Sari Hanafi is President of the International Sociological Association. He is also the Director of Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, Professor of Sociology, and Chair of the Islamic Studies program at the American University of Beirut. Dr. Hanafi is the editor of Idafat: the Arab Journal of Sociology. Among his recent books are: The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East (co-authored with A. Salvatore and K. Obuse), and Knowledge Production in the Arab World: The Impossible Promise (co-authored with R. Arvanitis). In 2019, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the National University of San Marcos. (https://sites.aub.edu.lb/sarihanafi/)

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