States of Exceptionalism: Globalization, Difference, Power

States of Exceptionalism: Globalization, Difference, Power

Research Area 7 "Global Studies and Politics of Space", International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Alexander-von-Humboldt-Haus, Rathenaustraße 24A, 35394 Gießen
From - Until
08.05.2014 - 09.05.2014
Ebbe Volquardsen

Please register by sending an email to and until 28 April 2014.

While the contemporary world is increasingly characterized by conflict and crisis, challenging imagined geographies and geopolitical patterns formerly regarded as stable, exceptional identity positions seem to gain ground. As the world globalizes, a growing need to construct the Self as special, superior, unique and exceptional seems to emerge. Nations, countries, regions and cities as well as social groups claiming to be exceptional, obviously follow a mission. They use their alleged superiority, be it of an economic, a power-related or an imagined ethical and moral kind, to supply the other parts of the world with strategies of good governance and exemplary models.

With this conference we take a closer look at the emerging term in order to compare and discuss how it is conceptualized and utilized in different places and contexts. The conference is dedicated to an exploration of the notion of exceptionalism as a discursive tool and a narrative structure to distinguish the self from not only an inferior but also from a coequal other. Exceptionalism seems to gesture toward a peer relation within an imaginary on serial places, regions and nation states, not one of domination between colonial center and colonized periphery.

lthough the concept of exceptionalism has become more popular, it still remains vague, blurred and lacks defnition. We will discuss papers from broad inter disciplinary perspectives within the social sciences and humanities. Papers addressing particular cases or making broader analytical and theoretical contributions to notions of exceptionalism will examine, what discursive self-conceptions of being special in a globalized world are about.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

9.00 – 9.30 Welcome and Registration

9.30 – 9.45 Opening Words (David Scheller & Ebbe Volquardsen, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

9.45 – 10.45 Key Note Lecture I: The Source of the American Mission: Faith or Philosophy (Prof. Dr. James Ceaser, University of Virginia)

10.45 – 11.15 Coffee Break

11.15 – 12.45 Panel I: »I’m glad someone’s looking out for the country«: Homeland and Negotiating Exceptionalism’s Means to an End (Jonas Nesselhauf & Markus Schleich, Universität des Saarlands);

Reimagining Romantic Love: Narratives of Sexual Exceptionalism in American Television (Maria Olive Alexopoulos, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin);

»UnSwedish Freedom«: Jonathan Franzen, Susanne Bier and Self-Conceptions of Exceptionalism in Crisis (Ebbe Volquardsen, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

12.45 – 14.00 Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.00 Key Note Lecture II: Exceptionalism as a Structure of Feeling: The Swedish Example (Dr. Ylva Habel, Södertörns Högskola, Sweden)

15.00 – 15.30 Coffee Break

15.30 – 17.30 Panel II: Suspect Community or Communities under Suspicion: Tracing the Story of Indian Exceptionalism (Mohammed Sirajuddeen, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi);

Between Exception and Worldliness: Reading the Post-apartheid and Post-Soviet through Jacques Derrida’s Writing (Dr. Ksenia Robbe, University of Leiden);

Islamophobia in Europe – Exceptionalism in Ideological Warfare (Rida Inam, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen);

The Aftermath of »Spiritual National Defence«: Memory of World War II and the Revival of Folklore in Swiss National Television (Corinne Geering, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

17.30 – 18.30 Reception at Alexander-von-Humboldt-House

19.00 Conference Dinner

Friday, 9 May 2014

10.00 – 11.00 Key Note Lecture III: Sexual Exceptionalism: Migration and Sexual Politics (PD Dr. Gabriele Dietze, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Break

11.30 – 13.00 Panel III: Exceptionalism in the European Economic Crisis: Exploring the German Case (Julia Tulke, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin);

»Exceptional Sports Policy«: YMCA, American Colonialism and the »Modernization« of East Asia (Stefan Hübner, Universität der Bundeswehr München);

The Modernity/Coloniality Perspective in Latin American Thought: A Counter-Exceptionalist Narrative? (Sebastian Garbe, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

13.00 – 14.30 Lunch Break

14.30 – 16.00 Panel IV: Staging Odessa: Memories, Narratives, Imagination. An Ethnological Approach (Marie de Vazelhes, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin);

City Branding and the Political: Grassroots Perpectives on the »Exceptional City« (David Scheller, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen);

Facing état de siege: Social Control and Social Resistance in Exarchia, Athens (Anna Giulia Della Puppa, Università Ca’Foscari Venice)

16.00 – 16.15 Coffee Break

16.15 – 17.00 Closing Words and Discussion (Prof. Dr. Hubertus Büschel, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

Contact (announcement)

Ebbe Volquardsen

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, GCSC, Alter Steinbacher Weg 38, 35394 Gießen