Skip navigation



Brunel University–London, 8th-9th February 2012

RIGHT OF RESISTANCE: Theory, Politics, Law (16th-21st century)

The connection between the right of resistance, the pluralism of rights, powers, and jurisdictions, weakens after the sunset of the medieval legal system in the early modern age. On the one hand, the forces that resisted the establishment of the power of the modern state and that played a major role within the political conflict of the earlier ages, were progressively ejected from the sphere of legitimacy. On the other hand, reflection on the right of resistance became the principal argument of opposition against the theoretical and legal positions supporting the construction of the modern State.

Theories of the right of resistance are very diverse, depending on the authors and the contexts within which they have been developed. Generally though, they become a theoretical point of attraction for alternative discourses that oppose the formation of the State and the establishment of an exclusive link between sovereignty and normative production.

With the crisis of the feudal world in the early modern age, the right of resistance becomes a theoretical counter-power against new forms of dominion, while the bourgeois revolutions bring the conception of resistance exercised within the constitutional framework. Here, the right of resistance finds its most evocative expression within the dialectic of the two paradigms of constituent power and constituted power.

The affirmation of the fundamental principles of liberal constitutionalism (characterized by alternative and conflicting perspectives on constitutional modernity as well as on constituent capacity causes the right of resistance to be absorbed and neutralized within the typical warranties of the rule of law. The constituent power itself is absorbed by the modern bourgeois idea of representation.

With the social tensions, struggles for recognition, and constitutional integration in the 19th and 20th century we see the rising of different theories of opposition, transferring older practices of resistance to new legal institutions and bodies. Thus: the tension between democracy (intended as power and absolute government) on one hand, and constitutionalism (intended as a theory and practice of limited government) on the other, remains latent yet present.

We witness today the crumbling of the exclusive link between the State and the production and interpretation of norms. This process is taking place within the more general crisis of the modern conception of sovereignty, intended as suprema potestas. In this crisis, theoretical lines of fracture resurface: social, ethnic, religious, and political fractures that give birth to new practices of resistance, veto, and opposition within the framework of both local and global phenomena of contestation of new and traditional forms of oppression.

Therefore, the claiming and oppositional dimension of early constitutionalism, popular sovereignity, and tutelage of fundamental rights suggests the possibility of recovering that “negative source” of sovereignity that faded away during the establishment of the modern state.

Here lies the proposal of a fresh reflection on theories of resistance between the early modern and the contemporary period. Within those theories, we aim to individuate alternative proposals to the formation of the modern state, as well as to understand the elements of affinity and continuity with today’s oppositional and conflictual practices on a global scale.


Wednesday 8th February Session 1: LC-004-006 – 9.30

Chair: Filippo Del Lucchese (Brunel University – London)

Justin Fisher (Head of School of Social Sciences) – Welcome

Mario Ascheri (Università di Roma Tre) – The Roots of the Resistance: Main Forms of Medieval Contractualism

Mario Turchetti (Université de Fribourg/Universität Freiburg) – The Right of Resistance: Classical Foundations and Modern Applications by Catholics and Protestants in the Western Christendom

Riccardo Rosolino (Università degli Studi di Napoli – L’Orientale) – Resisting Monopolists: Theological and Juridical Thought in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century

Session 2: LC-004-006 – 3.00

Chair: John Roberts (Brunel University)

Susanne Sreedhar (Boston University) – The Hobbesian right of resistance

Marco Fioravanti (Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”) – Slave Poisoner: Resistance to slave order and the invention of the inner enemy in the 19th century French Caribbean

Warren Montag (Occidental College – Los Angeles) – Kelsen, Schmitt and the question of lawful resistance to law

Thursday 9th February

Session 3: LC-004-006 – 10.00

Chair: Mark Neocleous (Brunel University – London)

Vivienne Jabri (King’s College – London) – Embodiment and Mass in the Revolutionary Subject

Hourya Bentouhami (Université de Paris VII – Denis Diderot) – Civil Disobedience and Non-Violence: a Passive, Feminine Way of Defense vs a Manly, Revolutionary Armed Resistance?

Andreas Dimopoulos (Brunel University – London) – The right to resistance “à la grecque”: IMF bail-out and social unrest in today’s Greece

Session 4: LC-004-006 – 3.00

Chair: Peter D. Thomas (Brunel University – London)

Sandro Mezzadra (Università degli Studi di Bologna) – Resisting the Margins: Border Struggles in the Contemporary World

Toni Negri (Uninomade) – Esperienze di resistenza e (nuova definizione del) potere costituente

Conference organiser: Filippo Del Lucchese (Brunel University – London)




‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)


‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (recording) and (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales)  


‘Cheerful Sin’ – a new song by Victor Rikowski:


Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

MySpace Profile:

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

The Ockress:

Rikowski Point:


Online Publications at:

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: