Shaping Europe in a Globalized World? –
Protest Movements and the Rise of a Transnational Civil Society?
Conference at the University of Zurich, Department of German
with the support of the European Commission
Conveners: Roland Axtmann (Centre for the Study of Culture and Politics, University of Swansea), Kathrin Fahlenbrach (University of Halle), Martin Klimke (University of Heidelberg), Joachim Scharloth (University of Zurich)
Location: Department of German, University of Zurich
Date: June 23-26, 2009
Recent research into the development and implications of transnational modes of political organization has tended to concentrate on the growth of institutions involved with international political and economic governance. This has been counter-balanced by growing research into international protest movements that appears to paint a picture of an emerging transnational civil society; one that includes formalized Non-Governmental Organisations such as OXFAM, Amnesty International and international labour movements as well as the seemingly more spontaneous movements associated with anti-globalization and anti-capitalist activism. The study of transnational social movements is, then, central to the development of our understanding of the internationalization of politics as such and in particular to attempts to conceptualize a global civil society.
However, such research is problematic and in need of expansion and realignment in both the conceptual and empirical dimensions. There are three central issues that need to be addressed:
Firstly, research into transnational social movements often presupposes a series of normative claims regarding the desirability of particular forms of democratic activity. It then relies on these norms to both explain and justify research findings. But the movement from centralized and state-led national politics to a global politics of multiple actors in a multi-polar context precisely calls such norms into question: they are a source of the conflictual dynamics of global politics not its outcome and still less a governing explanatory principle. Research needs to conceptualize the way in which an irreducible tension between a demand for universal norms and the reality of a global pluriverse is constitutive of the terrain traversed by transnational movements.
Secondly, research into social movements tends overwhelmingly to concentrate on movements of the left. This leads not only to the minimizing of the attention paid to social movements of the right. It also simply generalizes a particular dimension of political differentiation while suppressing others. This may have been sufficient for the study of the first wave of post-war transnational movements in 1960s Europe. It is not sufficient for today. For instance, an increasingly significant political phenomenon consists of transnational nationalisms: movements organized for national ‘liberation’ that operate across borders, connected to and sustained by networks of migrant co-nationals and other sympathizers. Movements organized to oppose trade liberalization may be motivated by nationalist and particularist sentiments as well as social democratic nostalgia. Religious movements cannot easily be contained within a left-right spectrum. Research into transnational social movements must undertake empirical examination of the multiple dimensions along which groups are dispersed and also to conceptualise this distribution.
Thirdly, to date research has concentrated on European-style social movements and has identified similar variants in other regions. But this might mean that religious movements such as Falun Gong in China are not properly attended to.
The goal of this conference is to address these issues; to consolidate present research and to begin developing new empirical findings and new conceptual frameworks.
We especially encourage applications referring to the following topics:
• Globalization of Politics – Globalization of Protest?
• Transnationalism within Right Wing Protest Movements
• Filling the Gap: European Protest Movements as a Result of a Lack of Democracy within the EU
• EU Polity and Europeanization of Protest
• Applying the Concepts of “Civil Society” and “Social Movements” in Eastern Europe and non-European Countries – Potential and Limits
• Even Newer Social Movements – Creating new Public Spheres?
• Building Transnational Protest Identities – Languages, Images and Actions
• European Anti-Corporate Campaigns in a Globalized Economy
• Migration and Ethnicity as a Source of Protest
• Professionalizing Protest
• The Future of Political Participation: Social Movements, Lobbying or Party Politics
• Taming Protest: The Rituals of Violence
Applications from postgraduate students, early stage researchers (PhD-students), postdocs and young scholars from all disciplinary and national backgrounds are strongly encouraged and form the main target group for this event.
All travel and accommodation costs within reasonable boundaries will be covered by the European Union.
Although the conference language will mainly be English, we also invite proposals in French, Spanish, Dutch, German and Polish, if a short summary (2 pages) in English is provided.
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: August 15, 2008
(abstracts no longer than 500 words)
SELECTIONS WILL BE MADE BY: October 1, 2008
PLEASE USE ONLINE APPLICATION AT: www.protest-research.eu
FURTHER QUESTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coordinator EU Project Administration
University of Heidelberg
Heidelberg Center for American Studies
Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais
Germany Email: email@example.com Visit the website at http://www.protest-research.eu
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