Risk, crisis, conflict: political analysis of emergencies (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Olivia Guaraldo
Olivia Guaraldo
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° periodo di lezioni - GEM dal Sep 30, 2020 al Dec 19, 2020.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course aims at introducing and discussing some of the major issues concerning political philosophy, especially those related to the contemporary global challenges that interest this field of research. What are the main political challenges of our present? What are the conceptual tools at our disposal to understand and possibly solve new and unprecedented emergency crises, conflicts, global risks? The course will tackle these themes by using both philosophical texts and literary, cinematic tools in order to broaden the political and cultural comprehension of phenomena.
At the end of this course students will have acquired the following skills:
- Knowledge of the major concepts of modern and contemporary political theory
- Ability to apply such concepts to the understanding of contemporary emergency phenomena of political nature (conflicts, wars, migrations, humanitarian crises, terrorist attacks).
- Ability to elaborate complex analyses of emergency situations, able to include and relate to eachother theoretical, historico-political, and contingent aspects of emergency, in order to favour peaceful solutions of conflicts).
- Ability to critically analyse media, governmental, and public representations o emergency phenomena.
- Ability to project, implement and disseminate communicative products (cultural, humanitarian, civic) informed by respect for human dignity and cultural diversity.


Crisis', 'emergency', 'state of exception' seem to have become the nouns with which today every form of government and every administrative process must come to terms. Not only the recent pandemic and the sanitary emergency that followed, but also the economic crisis, the emergency state caused by natural catastrophes seem to indicate a situation in which the crisis has become an ordinary and recurrent element. In this course we will attempt at tracing a genealogy of these three nouns showing how at every epoch corresponds a different way of conceiving crisis, emergency and state of exception.
A first historico-theoretical part will be devoted to the analysis of the political meaning of these words (Koselleck, Gentili). while a second part will be devoted to an empirical verification of the ways in which in contemporary world the crisis is faced. Particular attention will be given to the economic crisis (2008-2010), to the natural catastrophe of the Italian earthquake in Northern Italy ( 2012), to the recent pandemic of Covid-19 (2020).
If it is true that every crisis reveals something of the world in which it has generated, it is also true that every crisis contains in itself, albeit in nuce, a constituent, generative charge able to give birth to alternatives and novelties that can confront the social and pshychological trauma. The class will work as a laboratory in which we explore metaphors, narratives, images that have been mobilized during the recent pandemic crisis in order to test their transofrmative potential.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Gentili, Dario Crisi come arte di governo Quodlibet 2018
Koselleck, Reinhardt Crisi. Per un lessico della modernità Ombre corte 2012
AA.VV La pandemia da Covid-19 2020 articoli, saggi, interviste, materiale multimediale raccolto dalla docente nella primavera 2020
Pitzalis, Silvia Politiche del disastro. Politiche e contropoteri nel terremoto emiliano ombre corte 2016
Giolo, O. Pastore, B. Vulnerabilità: analisi multidisciplinare di un concetto Carocci 2018

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam that will start with a presentation of a case-study (concept, event, fact, phenomenon etc.) freely chosen by the student and prepared by relying on the texts of the course. Further questions on the specific case-study or other notions included in the tests can be part of the exam.
For attending students: the preparation of the oral exam presentation can move from class discussions of themes and cases, and eventually from extra material given during lectures.
Active participation in class discussion and personal or group oral presentation in class contribute for 30% to the final vote.
For non-attending students:
The program is the same, including extra texts and material given during the course (available on the moodle platform of the course). The oral examination will be entirely based on the texts but can equally begin from a specific case-study (see above).