Liberating Comparisons: Report from the Workshop

The Liberating Comparisons network emerged out of a workshop by the same name in Edinburgh on 8 December 2017. The workshop drew together scholars from across the UK to explore the potential of comparative methods.

From back left: Jonathan Spencer, Sneha Krishnan, Kesi Mahendran, Juliano Spyer, Sarah Linn, Ian Harper, Mikal Woldu, Patrick Mutahi, Simone Lamont-Black, Indrajit Roy

The workshop started from the premise that comparative methods had the potential to reify or disrupt the way we see the world and our place within it. Our workshop drew together scholars who were interested in the latter: the transformative insights that comparative methods could bring to the complex and important issues of our day.

Our workshop critically explored how we do comparative work: How are international collaborations for comparative projects assembled and run? How are cases for comparison selected? What is compared and why? What do we do with the results of our analysis? What frustrations do we encounter en route? Our hope was not to reify narrow answers to these questions but to open up space so that they could be discussed openly and honestly together.

This workshop was made possible thanks to the funding of the Political Studies Association and the Innovation Fund of the Global Justice Academy and Global Development Academy at the University of Edinburgh.