IPSA RC 41 - Geopolitics

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Borders, Fences, Firewalls. Assessing the changing relationship of territory and institutions, Göttingen, Germany, October 19-20, 2017

Recent years have provided us with new images of a world in which persons can interact almost seamlessly regardless of distance. Various private and public institutions draw on changing means of communication and transport that seem to transcend particular spaces and times. Concepts such as liquid democracy suggest the revolutionary potential of digital media for our thinking about politics. At the same time, we are also witnessing an unbroken and even growing focus on securing territorial borders. Critiques of disembodied perspectives on norms and persons join with a new emphasis on space’s significance for human interactions, often described as the “spatial turn”. Are we moving past a territorially defined order – or do we see a return of border walls? Are territorial borders being complemented or replaced by other forms of boundaries, tighter firewalls and/or private fences?

This international conference will provide a forum for addressing the complex and shifting interrelations between territory and institutions, bringing these various perspectives into productive exchange. The general narrative is that a growing connection between territory and institutions characterizes modernity until the mid-20th century, when globalization began to disentangle the two. Is such a description adequate? To which extent does it represent a particular European perspective, and can it be countered or complemented by other histories? What normative claims result from the respective descriptions? What reactions do we see in different areas of society to tackle these developments, and what reactions might evolve in the future?

The conference will include keynotes by Prof. Margaret Moore (Queen’s University) and Prof. T. Alexander Aleinikoff (The New School).



IPSA International Conference Political Science in the Digital Age: Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties, Hannover, December 4-6 2017

Call for Panels for Research Committees

IPSA International Conference

Political Science in the Digital Age:

Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties

December 4-6 2017
Hannover, Germany

Program Chairs: Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner


The International Political Science Association (IPSA) is organizing an international conference that will be held on 4-6 December 2017 in Hannover, Germany. Chaired by Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner, the conference will take place in Hannover’s spectacular Palace of Herrenhausen, surrounded by gardens that date back to the Baroque period. You can find more information on the event website https://hannover2017.ipsa.org/

The conference, entitled “Political Science in the Digital Age: Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties”, provides the opportunity for a reflection on the discipline and one of its most relevant challenges, namely digitalization. The conference aims to bring together officials and members of the national Political Science Associations of IPSA and members the IPSA Research Committees in order to further develop networks and cooperation among these groups. The conference will also be a platform for addressing challenges as well as developing ideas for future research within IPSA.

Digitalization - or the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of everyday life - is the most dominant signature of the 21th century so far. Society, economy and politics are all affected by a multitude of implications that digitalization embodies. The Internet and social media have not only multiplied the communications channels in an unprecedented way but also have had a substantial impact on the interaction between politicians and citizens as well as all societal actors. Formerly more or less institutionalized channels of communication between on one side politicians and media, on the other side media and citizens have been replaced by a myriad of decentralized networks. While actors in politics and media formerly steered communications flows, digital-based networks now tend to have unpredictable effects in their scope, scale, and therefore in their impact. Opinion-building and decision-making processes are increasingly influenced by the functional logic of digital media; factors like the acceleration and synchronicity of information, the multimodality of the messages, and the interactivity and connectedness of providers and users all are reshaping social, economic, and political life. This is true for domestic as well as for international politics. The dissolution of communicative boundaries creates a new transnational space of connectedness on all levels of agency. In consequence, ideas, norms and values spread more easily and rapidly; in the same way the diffusion of policies, institutional elements, and governance techniques are facilitated.

For the discipline of Political Science the digital revolution implies at least two challenges: On one side, the subjects of research are concerned: national as well as international actors, communication between government and societal actors, the relation between politicians and citizens, aspects of political economy, aspects of regulation, e-governance and net politics, diplomacy cybercrimes and cyberwar, etc. On the other side, digitalization influences the academic sphere not only in terms of research but also in terms of teaching, learning and publishing. This latter challenge includes the more practical dimension involving political consulting and policy recommendations.

It is important that Political Scientists reflect on the current and future implications that the digital age holds for the discipline. The aim of the conference is to examine these challenges adopting a broad approach. Such a broad perspective will enable examining how digital media transforms the relations and communications between international, governmental and societal actors. The conference will comprehend five thematic sessions:



Political Theory

How do digital media influence the public sphere? Do they open new spaces for deliberation? What implications does it have for politics if the boundary between public and private increasingly becomes blurred? Where are the boundaries between gains of freedom and loss of privacy? What does it imply about political discourse now that citizens have become content providers? Does the openness of information foster more knowledge or does it facilitate the ‘transparent citizen’?


Comparative Politics

How will the digital revolution affect politics? How do politicians use digital media? What changes can we observe in electoral campaigning and elections themselves? And how do citizens use digital media? Can citizens’ online participation fill the ‘participation gap’ and enhance legitimacy? Or are emerging new participatory divides? Does the digital revolution help spread knowledge and/or allow ever more elite control of information provision? Which digital divides can be identified and which effects do they have on opinion-building and decision-making? Is the Internet prone to enhance inclusion or does is accentuate exclusiveness among people? Do e-voting, e-referenda, etc. provide new opportunities for decision-making and political accountability? How do authoritarian regimes exploit digital media? Does digitalization help keep them in power or provide means to push for more democracy?


International Relations and World Economy

How do digital communications and networks affect relations among countries? Is the digital revolution an asset or rather a stress factor for international politics? What consequences does this new ‘openness’ have for international diplomacy? Is the digital revolution a source of progress or rather an obstacle for international cooperation? What impact will cyberwarfare have? Does this represent a new domain of conflict among countries, which is more dangerous?  What are the implications of the fact that the providers of communication networks and the owners of massive amounts of personal data like Google and Facebook at the same time are firms? Will the digital revolution accelerate economic growth or retard it? Will it increase inequality given the “digital divide” among countries, or help alleviate it? Will it increase the probability of economic crises as it speeds up communications and compounds agents’ reactions? And does the availability of ever more data available to ever more people at ever faster speeds provide more benefits or more dangers?



Which new methodological tools have been facilitated by digital technology? And which new methodological approaches or tools do we need to capture online communication and interaction (e.g., online content analysis)? Which new ways of data collection are available, and what are the implications for researchers for data protection? Do we need new theories and concepts? How should studies be tailored to capture the empirical implications of digitalization in the various subdisciplines?


Teaching and Learning

Which new opportunities provides digitalization for teaching (see e.g. MOOCs)? Which teaching formats can combine digital and analogue approaches? Who can benefit from e-learning and how? How can citizenship education benefit from digital modes of knowledge and value building?


Proposal Procedure

The conference consists of different formats of panels. The Program Chairs offer the Research Committees to organize panels in the exposed Sessions. The slots for each panel are 90 minutes. Please submit panel proposals before April, 15 2017.

What to include in your panel proposal:

1)      The Session where you want to be allocated.

2)      Title of the panel.

3)      Chair and Co-Chair, discussant for the panel (names, affiliation, mailing address).

4)      Abstracts of 4-5 paper givers (names, affiliation, mailing address).

Please send the proposals to hannover2017@ipsa.org

Note that every participant must be IPSA members.


Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner

Program Chairs


Conference "Relocating Borders: a comparative approach", Berlin, Germany, 11-13.01.2013

Borders are taking on greater significance these days, even while their meaning is changing and multiplying. This conference brings together research on the way borders are currently being relocated, in every sense, both material and conceptual. While the conference focuses particularly on the eastern peripheries of Europe (whose precise location, either in terms of 'eastern' or 'peripheries' is also currently being debated), it invites researchers working on any regions of the world to participate. That will provide both a rich comparative perspective, but also allow an exploration of the shifting interrelations between locations. It is not surprising that borders are currently a key focus of attention: there are more people, things, money, debt and ideas moving across them, and they are moving at a faster pace; state power is increasingly challenged, as well as reinforced, by globalisation, while more walls, security and surveillance are constructed; intense debates are raging about environment and climate change and the apparent need to straddle borders to solve the problems they generate; information, digital and medical technologies have reshaped the relations and separations across borders, and made differences and similarities more visible; the European Union and other trans-state entities have made borders ever more complex; the balance of power across the world is changing. In short, borders appear to be relocating just now, both conceptually and materially, and this conference invites researchers from all disciplines to come together to compare notes on this major shift. On the assumption that the change is epistemological as well as ontological, the best way to explore that process is through comparison. Berlin is the right place to hold such a gathering: traces of the city's past remain despite the removal of the Wall, that icon of Cold War border in Europe. Those traces are most obvious in what used to be the gap beyond the wall: no-man's land has been filled by a jumble of contemporary buildings, creating what some say is a strip of neoliberal landscape flowing across the city where once there had been emptiness. The gentrification of many neighborhoods in East Berlin (and elsewhere) has generated internal inequalities, while the previously migrant neighborhoods have become vibrant alternative districts both socially and politically. Humboldt University, where the conference will be held, is in the immediate proximity of the Wall's trace. The conference will include a round table devoted to Berlin's special status in Europe as a city that traces and marks both past and contemporary significance of borders in Europe.

Relocating Borders is organized by COST 2 Action IS0803

Keynote speakers: Thomas Hyland Eriksen (Oslo) Caren Kaplan (UC Davis) Saskia Sassen (Columbia)

and for a special session on Berlin, Daniel Libeskind, designer of the Berlin Jewish Museum and master planner for the design of the post-9/11 World Trade Center.

Conference Topics:

Applicants are welcome to submit either individual papers or panel proposals on any topic of their choice relevant to the conference theme. Alternatively, you may choose to submit under one of the following headings: 1. European Tidemarks 2. Money, Trade and Finance 3. Genders and Sexualities 4. Techniques and Technologies 5. Laws, Documents, Bureaucracies 6. Beliefs, Faiths and Religions 7. Architectures, Things and Objects 8. Places, Spaces and Locations 9. Histories and Futures 10. Travels and Crossings How to Apply: Please fill in the form that can be downloaded here:


Deadline: 31 May 2012

What happens next: Your proposal will be assessed by the conference committee, and you will be informed of the result by 25th June 2012. If you are selected, you must confirm your acceptance of the offer by Monday 9th July.


International Research Training Group "Baltic Borderlands", Greifswald, Germany, 20-22.09.2012

From the beginning of mankind water has played an essential role by dividing and connecting different landscapes, peoples, cultures and identities. Although water has been the object of research in studies on maritime borders, dimensions of inclusion and exclusion that go beyond the mere physical character of water have often been neglected. This interdisciplinary conference intends to approach water beyond its immanent quality as a physical boundary and focuses on the character of water as a means of social, cultural, political or economic division and connection. The aim of the conference is to discuss the different roles and functions ascribed to water and what we can learn about social and mental boundaries through engaging with it.

Central aims and topics of the conference:

Throughout history water has been the basis for both inclusion and exclusion. Water bodies like oceans, lakes and rivers have often been experienced as physical borders between various geographical spaces and, consequently, as separating different peoples and cultures.

Yet, the function of water bodies as natural borders should be further scrutinised and critically reviewed. Why do some rivers and seas work as barriers, whereas others are regarded as bridges for social interaction? Obviously, narratives ascribe social meaning to them. For instance, the Mediterranean Sea has been a centre of civilization since antiquity, though today it is often considered to be the "graveyard of Europe" and a barrier walling off the "Fortress Europe". On the other hand, though interaction was impeded by ideological obstacles during the Cold War, today the Baltic Sea Region can be regarded as a prime example for cooperation and peaceful transformation. Hence, the functions and meanings of water bodies undergo shifts over time and may vary in different cultural and social contexts.

Various actors have been actively collaborating on different maritime issues like environment, transportation and tourism. In this regard, water bodies do not only separate but also link different countries and societies and thereby can be perceived as bridges - depending on the respective interpretation and action. Hence, it has to be reconsidered if the demarcating function is only ascribed to water by different actors or if physical and attributed features coincide in this regard. There should be therefore a further discussion on how and why distinct functions of water are produced, maintained and transformed and what the underlying motives of such functional shifts could be.

The manifold dimensions of water as means of connection and separation have always been in the focus of literature, arts and cinematography which have been trying to depict the mysticism associated with water. Water as the essence of biological and cultural life can also be found in the great religions where it serves as a symbol of birth, origin, fertility and purity. Many religious traditions are based on water as a central element which can both unite people of the same belief and distinguish them from groups of other religions. The functions of water therefor go beyond the mere geographical barrier/bridge dichotomy and touch social, political, economic, religious and legal aspects.

Therefore, the conference encompasses, but is not limited, to the following aspects:

- the changing meaning and functional transformation of water as barrier and bridge - water bodies (oceans, lakes, rivers) as historical physical borders and mental boundaries - water bodies as extra legal spaces (piracy, smuggling, human trafficking) - water as a resource (food, fishery, agriculture) - social and political dimensions of water as a source for conflict and cooperation - water in culture, fine arts and religion - the governance of water bodies and their legal status - water and mobility (trade, transportation, tourism)

Requirements, dates for application and organizational matters:

We invite senior scholars, young researchers (recent Ph.Ds and Post-Docs) and doctoral students from the fields of Anthropology, Cultural and Area Studies, Geography, History, Literature, Political Science/International Relations, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Theology as well as neighbouring disciplines to submit paper proposals. If you are interested in contributing a paper, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short biographical note (max. 150 words) until 30 March 2012 to water@uni-greifswald.de. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of April.

More general information about the conference, programme, accommodation, travel and possibilities of financial support will soon be available on the web page of the International Research Training Group "Baltic Borderlands" (http://www.phil.uni-greifswald.de/fk/borderlands.html).


Political Geography and Critical Geopolitics IGU Preconference 2012, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 24-25.08.11

The conference will provide a forum for exchange for political geographers prior to the IGC 2012 meeting in Cologne with the goal of moving forward current conceptual, methodological and empirical research agendas in Political Geography and Critical Geopolitics. During the conference two strands will be running parallel: The conference will provide a forum for exchange for political geographers prior to the IGC 2012 meeting in Cologne with the goal of moving forward current conceptual, methodological and empirical research agendas in Political Geography and Critical Geopolitics. During the conference two strands will be running parallel:

Strand A: Integration and Disintegration of the Nation State. The role of the nation state and the territorial order of the world’s political map have significantly changed over the past two decades. In the face of ongoing economic globalisation the geopolitical influences of transnational corporations and networks of financial speculation have become ever more palpable. In the political realm, networked players such as terrorist networks, regional warlords and new social movements are growing in importance. Simultaneously, ongoing inter-state conflicts, debates on homeland security, the biopolitics of citizenship, hardening borders and reinvigorated state institutions in the face of financial and fiscal crisis in the EU and the US show that the nation state is far from disintegrating into a space of flows. The conference seeks to invite contributions that discuss these challenging developments from different theoretical perspectives as well as through different case studies.

Strand B: Critical Geopolitics 2012. Four years after the Critical Geopolitics 2008 conference at Durham University, we seek to invite contributions addressing the state of Critical Geopolitics and its evolution as an interdisciplinary research approach across the social sciences. Particular attention shall be paid to Critical Geopolitics’ interdisciplinarity in both conceptual and methodological terms as means of exploring inter-dependencies between the global and the local. How do geopolitical conditions affect local settings and the daily lives of people and how do localized social relations and seemingly mundane practices develop wider implications? The conference seeks to investigate both how the geopolitical is enacted in local settings and how specific personal, social and institutional arrangements shape the geopolitical. Furthermore, it seeks to address how these developments are dependent on, and influenced by, different underlying spatial arrangements and scale interdependencies.

In addition to paper and roundtable session in each strand, there will be two plenary lectures by Alec Murphy (http://geography.uoregon.edu/murphy/) and Joanne Sharp (http://www.ges.gla.ac.uk:443/staff/jsharp). Abstracts will soon be available here.

The conference will be held at the university’s Campus Westend (Grüneburgweg 1, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany). It is organized by the Commission on Political Geography (CPG) of the IGU and the German ‘Arbeitskreis Politische Geographie’. It is sponsored by the journal Political Geography and will be hosted by the Department of Human Geography of the Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main.

For more information, please follow the links on the left or send an email to precon2012@humangeographie.de


International Conference on Bringing Migration and History into the Equation: Re-Imagining Nationhood and Belonging, Berlin, Germany, 5.-7.10.11

International Conference on

Bringing Migration and History into the Equation: Re-Imagining Nationhood and Belonging

5-7 October 2011, Jewish Museum Berlin, Germany

Organized by: Network Migration in Europe e.V.

in cooperation with

Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul Jewish Museum Berlin Zentrum für Türkeistudien und Integrationsforschung, Essen

Migration poses challenges to European societies as we know them today; indeed, the inclusion of immigrants in these societies has become a controversial issue in most European countries. Both of these statements are reflected in ongoing debates in numerous European countries. All too often, immigrants are seen as "Others" when it comes to constructing national cohesion and patterns of belonging and identity. The "Othering" of immigrants, perhaps best seen as a process of social construction and engineering, is closely interrelated with social, economic, linguistic and, increasingly, religious questions. However, immigrant inclusion and exclusion cannot be regarded without reference to historical, cultural and symbolic questions. Thus the analysis of identity formation and collective identities in multiethnic societies brings the political scope of identity politics, historical representations and national narratives to the fore. It entails theoretical and practical questions of (newly) constituting nationhood and transcultural belonging, as well as re-positioning ethnic/migrant minorities in the public sphere. This conference, Bringing Migration and History into the Equation: Re-Imagining Nationhood and Belonging, will address this intersection of migration, identity formation and belonging from comparative and historical perspectives. The emphasis will be on the intersection of history, politics and commemorative practices/strategies. Case studies as well as theoretical contributions are welcome. We invite the submission of papers on the following topics: - Migrant inclusion and political/historical representation; - (Re)formation of nationhood and identities under conditions of diversity; - Writing, teaching and displaying history in immigrant societies; - Social and cultural practices/strategies of institutions, organisations and communities to represent migrants and their cultures/histories; - Transnational and mediated public spheres; - Borders and belongings: From guest workers and refugees to post-migrants; - Methodological and theoretical contributions with regard to identity formation, identity politics and historical representation of migration;

The conference will be composed of: - an opening panel for a larger audience, including invited spokespeople from politics and art; - a keynote opening lecture; - panels based on academic papers; - roundtables with short statements to generate new questions and ideas; Contributions may be either (longer) academic papers or (shorter) input statements for roundtables, focused on innovative and relevant topics. The conference will be framed by the 50th anniversary of the German-Turkish labor recruitment contract in October 2011. Its commemoration raises a number of questions which will be contextualized in a comparative and international framework. The conference will take up the case of fifty years of German-Turkish labor agreements to shed light on more general issues stated above.

A follow-up conference will be held in Essen in spring 2012, focussing on Lieux de mémoire places/sites of memory of migration history. The October 2011 conference is open to scholars in the Humanities and the Social Sciences in the widest sense (anthropology, ethnology, geography, history, law, political sciences, sociology etc.). Abstracts for papers or contributions to roundtables will be considered on a competitive basis. The number of speakers for panels will be limited to 25. Limited financial support for participants to subsidize expenses for accommodation is available upon request. Submissions of abstracts (max. 600 words) and a short biographical note (not more than two pages) including a list of (selected) publications are welcomed until June 30, 2011. Papers and contributions will be circulated in advance and must be received by September 25, 2011. Please indicate if you intend to give a full paper or wish to participate in a roundtable.

For further information please visit http://www.network-migration.org/workshop2011 (accessible from June 1, 2011) or contact ohliger@network-migration.org. Submission deadline: June 30, 2011 Please send your application to ohliger@network-migration.org The selection committee will select and notify the participants by early July 2011