Kolleg-Forschergruppe der DFG „The Transformative Power of Europe“
German Research Foundation (DFG)
Object of Research
The diffusion of ideas has become a central research theme in political science, sociology, law, history, and economics. Scholars have focused on how ideas are spread across time and space, as can be observed especially in the European Union in various sociopolitical fields. The European Union (EU) serves as an almost ideal laboratory for investigating processes and outcomes of diffusion.
However, considering the limited progress in the global harmonization of norms and rules, other regions have become a central venue for creating common cross-border rules. While the KFG continues to focus on the “transformative power of Europe”, it is necessary to de-center the EU in this context, since it is not the only game in town with regard to the spread of ideas across the globe.
How and under what conditions do European policies and institutions diffuse to other regions of the world, particularly to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia? How are they adapted, translated, or “localized” in different regional and cultural contexts? And when do they meet rejection and resistance, especially considering the possible rivalry of different scripts?
In how far do experiences of regional integration and cooperation travel back to Europe and are translated into the European institutional model? Has today’s EU learned from other international settings, such as NATO or IMF, and regional integration forms in Latin America, the Arab world, Africa, and Asia?
Having focused so far on the diffusion of ideas, policies and institutions within the EU and its neighborhood, the KFG now turns its attention towards processes of diffusion beyond Europe. These processes may generate adaptation and localization, but also resistance and rejection. Moreover, we scrutinize the European Union as a receiver of diffusion processes.
The KFG employs the approach of comparative regionalism, as it allows us to explore the extent to which policies and institutions have, on the one hand, diffused from Europe to other regions of the world, and, on the other hand, traveled back to Europe.
Moreover, we draw inspiration for our research from transnational and transfer studies in law and history as well as translation studies in the humanities. Integrating this scholarship with the social science literature on diffusion, we are able to arrive at a more fine-tuned picture of the processes and outcomes of regional cooperation and integration.
For detailed information see Grand Proposal.
- Research Area 1: The EU and Regional Institution in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia
During its history of integration, the EU has developed as a major reference point for regionalisms around the globe. The aim of this research area is to explore how and under what conditions European policies and institutions diffuse to other regions of the world, particularly to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. How are they adapted, translated, or “localized” in different regional and cultural contexts – and when do they meet rejection and resistance? What explains the variations in outcomes as regards institutional designs, meanings and interpretations? Moreover, despite its transformative power beyond its borders, the EU is not the only game in town when it comes to the spread of regionalism across the globe. Which alternative ideas of regional cooperation exist and how do they compete with the EU script? Lastly, can the EU maintain its image as a role model for regional integration in times of financial and economic crises?
Research Area 2: Europe and the EU as Recipient of Diffusion
EU institutions and policies do not only diffuse to other parts of the world. The EU is also recipient of global diffusion processes. This research area aims to explain how and under what conditions different regional cooperation and integration experiences travel back to Europe. How has early Western European integration been influenced by institutional models from other regions of the world? And has today’s EU learned from other international settings, such as NATO or IMF, and regional integration forms in Latin America, the Arab world, Africa, and Asia? Furthermore, this research area seeks to shed light on the gap between the EU’s self-image it seeks to promote externally, on the one hand, and resistance of other regions against these ideas, on the other. How does Europe’s history of colonialism influence its efforts to export its institutional solutions to other parts of the world? Finally, in time of a rising China and other emerging economies, how does Europe address these changes in the global order which will inevitably render the world more pluralistic?