The Max-Weber-Kolleg is a top-ranked research center in Germany, part of the University of Erfurt, which integrates the approach of an Institute for Advanced Study and a graduate school, along with a “Weberian” research program that “combines historical, comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives with an interest in normative issues in the social sciences” according to the organization. It focuses on pressing issues facing our society, especially “plurality, cultural diversity and social order, processes of acceleration and growth.”
“I am delighted to be selected as a Distinguished Fellow for the renowned Max Weber Institute for Cultural and Social Sciences in Germany,” said Professor Scheuerman. “My stay there will allow me to complete my ongoing book project on the changing contours of political nonviolence. And that research will help shape and, hopefully, improve the quality of the courses I teach within political science on democracy and its ongoing crises.”
During the Fellowship Scheuerman will seek to explore an analytically precise and empirically useful account of politically motivated property damage in its various forms. Frequently, politically motivated lawbreaking includes instances of property damage and destruction, including looting, vandalism, and sabotage. But, Scheuerman asserts, despite the implications for contemporary protest politics, political theorists and social philosophers either sideline such instances or cluster them under overly broad conceptual rubrics like “resistance” or “uncivil disobedience” – though arguably defacing a colonialist statue is very different than destroying a small business during a riot and potentially posing an existential threat to its owners.
At Max Weber Kolleg, Scheuerman will address key political-theoretical and social-philosophical questions, most importantly, such as, when and why should specific political acts resulting in property damage be viewed as having, in principle, some potentially “acceptable” ethical and political status—including for those committed to political nonviolence?
“Our department is delighted that Bill will have this support and vibrant intellectual community to focus on this important book project,” said Lauren MacLean, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the department. “These are pressing questions for democracies around the world, including our own. And our undergraduate and graduate students will benefit from new perspectives in their classroom discussions.”
Scheuerman's primary research and teaching interests are in modern political thought, German political thought, democratic theory, legal theory, and international political theory. He is the author and co-author of numerous books and journal articles, and his most recent book is Civil Disobedience (Polity Press, 2018). A recipient of numerous prestigious grants and fellowships, he serves on editorial boards for a number of journals, including Constellations, European Journal of Political Theory, International Relations, Journal of International Political Theory, Review of Politics, and Time & Society.