The Communicative Construction of Transnational Political Spaces and Times: An Interdisciplinary Conference

The Communicative Construction of Transnational Political Spaces and Times: An Interdisciplinary Conference

Collaborative Research Centre/SFB 584 “The Political as Communicative Space in History” (Department of History), Graduate School “World Concepts and Global Structural Patterns” (Institute for World Society Studies) Conveners: Mathias Albert, Gesa Bluhm, Jan Helmig, Andreas Leutzsch, Jochen Walter
From - Until
27.04.2007 - 29.04.2007
Gesa Bluhm

Transnationalism has developed into a key research program in history, sociology and political science during the second half of the 1990s. Due to a growing globalisation of everyday life, the transnational and/or global perspective has established itself in the attempt to overcome the national paradigm, which was associated with a conceptualisation of nation-states and their societies as independent and self-enclosed entities.
The conference primarily seeks to examine the construction, transformation and maybe also dissolution of transnational political spaces as they are constituted through language, social interaction and symbolic practices. It focuses on European and Western states and societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries during which national identifications became increasingly challenged by other representations transcending the frame of the nation.
The aim of this conference is, furthermore, to stimulate and advance the interdisciplinary analysis of political transnationalism by inviting contributions particularly from the fields of history, sociology, and political science.

While the conference will have a number of invited papers, most papers will be drawn from the proposals resulting from the present call for papers. We particularly encourage proposals aiming at the following five subject areas:

1. The Communicative Construction of Transnational Political Spaces

This panel is concerned with the various ways in which political communication, discourses and semantics contribute to the construction of transnational communicative spaces. Different perceptions of the political and of transnationalism correlate in these linguistic constructions of reality. How do political spaces develop when they are not primarily constituted of territorial units, but when their changing interior structures and exterior boundaries are established by communicative processes? What is the role of the media in these developments?

2. Civil Society and Governments. Who Are the Agents of Political Transnationalism?

Transnational political spaces can be established by different groups of agents, state and non-state actors alike. Through communicative practices, the involved agents constantly negotiate which social groups are part of or are excluded from a political space. How do these “negotiations” proceed on the transnational level where agents of civil society and governmental agents representing nation states interact? What are their power relations? Is there something like a politically active transnational civil society, or is political transnationalism still dominated by governmental interactions?

3. Methodological Approaches to the Analysis of Transnational Political Spaces

Different national, linguistic and scientific contexts have generated various approaches to transnationalism such as comparatism, (cultural) transfer, histoire croisée, entangled histories, or global and world history, all of which imply contrasting subjects of research and different conceptualisations of the political and the transnational. Which are their advantages and disadvantages? The aim of this panel is to assemble some of these methodological perspectives in order to relate them to each other and assess how they might complement one another.

4. Transnational Spaces and/or/in World Society? World Society Theory and Global History of the Political

As the role of political space is experiencing a profound change in world politics, the concept of world society may be helpful in understanding this development. World society studies as inspired by Niklas Luhmann treat the political system as an internal differentiation of a larger system. We would like to ask whether there are ways of writing a history of world society instead of writing a history of globalisation as a summary of different processes. Contributions discussing the changing role of space, its relevant transnational semantics, the concept of world society and possible transfers between political transnationalism and world society theory are particularly welcome.

5. Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Political Transnationalism

Spatial and temporal categories are interrelated – otherwise we could neither measure distance nor orient ourselves in space. Analysing the history of political spaces thus necessarily includes temporal categories. Likewise, reflecting on the emergence of temporal categories implies thinking about their use in spatial contexts. In this panel, we would like to discuss the connection between temporal and spatial views in conceptions of the political. Especially proposals concerning the use of temporal categories in the construction of political spaces in national or universal historiographies would be appreciated.

To propose a paper, please send an abstract of no more than 750 words by 31 July 2006 to:

The conference language will be English only.

The conference seeks to discuss full papers. Thus, it is expected that papers accepted for presentation will be delivered by 1 April 2007.

Accommodation and second/economy class travel expenses will be reimbursed for paper presenters.


Contact (announcement)

Gesa Bluhm

SFB 584
Schule für Historische Forschung
Universität Bielefeld
Postfach 10 01 31
D-33501 Bielefeld


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