This conference explores the history of (neo-)liberalism as a political and economic ideology of order in Western Europe and beyond after 1945 from a transnational and conceptual perspective. More specifically, the conference analyzes the processes in which liberalism was reconstructed during the postwar decades and discusses the relations between the liberal networks, discourses and rationalities that were established back then and liberalism today.
Recently, research on (neo-)liberalism as a political and economic movement has emerged. It highlights the transnational nature of the movement and illustrates the importance of key concepts as normative tools in processes of changing legitimacy. Consequently, this conference follows both a network and a conceptual approach to get to grips with the multi-level agency and multi-lingual negotiations of the semantics of (neo-)liberalism in Europe. The focus of most of the new research so far is on the post-war institutionalization of the neo-liberal network that occurred with the founding of the Mont Pèlerin Society, a transnational think tank, in Switzerland in 1947 under the leadership of Friedrich von Hayek, and its development into a global intellectual network with immense political influence by the 1980s, when market-driven approaches re-shaped national societies as well as the world economy. We want to use this think tank as a point of departure and a point of reference for further inquiries into liberal networks across Europe.
The Mont Pèlerin Society is illustrative for a highly important historical phenomenon as it represents one of the most influential networks within which values were negotiated, debated and diffused that would spill into both national and international political and semantic frameworks. In many ways, the national political spaces appropriated a transnational value production. The economists, politicians, journalists, and intellectuals involved acted on the basis of moral convictions and ideological guidelines. They were normative actors, pushing a global vision of market-based social order within national, but also international contexts.
This conference intends to broaden the analytical perspective of and deepen the historical knowledge about the processes in which liberalism was reconstructed in Western Europe after 1945. In particular, the conference wants to take into account the many other discourses on liberalism that were articulated in diverse national and transnational political arenas in the period at issue. Merging perspectives from history and the social-political sciences, the conference wants to include investigations of political parties, parliamentary debates, strategy departments within economic and foreign ministries and public debates. It also includes actors from more countries than Britain, Germany and France, which are in the focus of most investigations, such as countries from Northern and Southern Europe as well as Turkey.
This call for papers particularly asks for contributions in the field of Central and Eastern European liberal thought and networks both shortly before and after 1945.
Examining networks, think tanks, politicians, parties and public debates, the conference highlights the following questions: What liberal identities, imaginaries and modes of argumentation were involved in the processes in which liberalism was reconstructed in Western Europe? What did the concept of (neo-)liberalism mean to different actors and in different semantics settings as well as languages? How did these networked normative actors mobilize the concepts within the political discourse? And what are the legacies of the variants of liberalisms that were established in the postwar era in the liberalisms manifesting today?
Confirmed Participants: Pelin Helvaci (Istanbul Technical University), Ben Jackson (Oxford University), Fabio Masini (University of Rome III), Niklas Olsen (University of Copenhagen), Ove Kaj Pedersen (Copenhagen Business School), Dieter Plehwe (Social Science Research Centre Berlin), Hagen Schulz-Forberg (Aarhus University), Jean Solchany (Sciences Po, Lyon)
Please send a proposal for a paper no later than 30 June 2012 to the organizers: Hagen Schulz-Forberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Niklas Olsen (email@example.com)
Department of Culture and Society
Jens Chr. Skous Vej 5
8000 Aarhus C
0045.871.62232 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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