Lunch seminar with Ioana Sendroiu

A “new France”? On solving ambiguous problems and ending political transformation


Social theory has recently made great strides in understanding how social change begins, showing that problems or crises are not self-evident, and making conceptual space for contestation or disagreement. Considerable gaps remain, however, in our understanding of how social change ends. Drawing on insights from studies of transitional justice, I argue that ending social change is just as difficult as starting or creating it. Relying on in-depth archival research on the internal and public-facing politics of implementing trials and lustration in post-World War Two France, I trace the process of settling unsettled times. I find that while trials and lustration served the same goal, namely dealing with what happened during World War Two, they involved divergent problems with different levels of ambiguity. I therefore argue that the more ambiguous the problem, the more likely it is to be politicized, and so the more onerous problem-solving becomes.

Speaker bio

Ioana Sendroiu is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She works on the politics of social change, including in historical perspective, as well as on cognition and resilience during crisis.

Her current book project is a computational and ethnographic study of how entrepreneurs are problem-solving climate change, with reference to net zero frameworks and carbon dioxide removal.

At the University of Copenhagen, she will be focusing on how legal mechanisms and regulatory frameworks can help to settle crisis moments.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 625 8760 0636
Passcode: 400221