"Re-Reading Risse": Workshop Celebrates 60th Birthday of Thomas Risse

Mar 02, 2016

Workshop Participants. Photo: Bettina Volke

Workshop Participants. Photo: Bettina Volke

The Birthday Boy: Thomas Risse. Photo: Bettina Volke

The Birthday Boy: Thomas Risse. Photo: Bettina Volke

Thomas Risse and Tanja A. Börzel. Photo: Bettina Volke

Thomas Risse and Tanja A. Börzel. Photo: Bettina Volke

Thomas Risse. Photo: Bettina Volke

Thomas Risse. Photo: Bettina Volke

KFG director Thomas Risse turned 60 on 17 December 2015. On this occasion, Anja Jetschke (University of Göttingen) and Andrea Liese (University of Potsdam), together with the KFG team, organized a workshop reviewing Risses contribution to the field. The workshop took place at the Seminaris Campus Hotel Dahlem on 18-19 December 2015.

The conference was organized in six panels which revolved around research areas that Risse has substantially influenced in his career until today (please find the program here). Nicole Deitelhoff (Frankfurt), Anna Holzscheiter (Berlin), and Harald Müller (Frankfurt) discussed the communicative turn in International Relations and the current state of the art, 15 years after Risse’s “Let’s Argue” piece. Edgar Grande (Munich), Cathleen Kantner (Stuttgart), Barbara Pfetsch (Berlin), and Frank Schimmelfennig (Zürich) critically reflected on Risse’s work on European identities, public spheres, and politicization. Ingo Peters (Berlin), Pia Fuhrhop (Berlin), and Mareike Kleine (London) dealt with foreign policy analysis and Risse’s earlier contributions to it, while Michael Zürn (Berlin), Adrienne Héritier (Florence), Marianne Beisheim, Gregor Walter-Drop, and Lars Brozus (all Berlin) focused on (limited) statehood as well as Europeanization research. Comparative regionalism and Risse’s research on diffusion were covered by Tanja Börzel, Marianne Braig (Berlin), Anja Jetschke (Göttingen), and Wiebke Wemheuer-Vogelaar. Last but not least, Anke Draude (Berlin), Andrea Liese (Potsdam), Hans-Peter Schmitz (San Diego), and Jens Steffek (Darmstadt) discussed the current state of the art with regard to research on transnational actors and the “power of human rights.”

Given the participation of these distinguished scholars, vibrant and controversial debates unfolded, critically reflecting on the diffusion of Risse’s work within the academic community. Here are some highlights: Nicole Deitelhoff pointed out that the empirical turn in the study of communication had led to a neglect of equally important normative questions. Frank Schimmelfennig showed that Risse’s work on European identity was empirically right at about 50%. Edgar Grande disagreed profoundly with Risse’s positive evaluation of the EU’s politicization and used Risse's quote from 1996 to make his point. Adrienne Héritier questioned whether Risse’s more gradual approach to Europeanization was suitable for dealing with the current EU crises, specifically with regard to the Euro and the refugees. Ingo Peters explained Risse’s approach to IR from his personal motivations as a catholic as well as a human rights and peace activist. Jens Steffek distinguished between transnational actors as “Mountain Lions” (advocacy networks) and “Labradors” (service providers). In sum, participants not only engaged in a serious discussion of a whole variety of academic issues, they also had a lot of fun.

Thomas Risse and the KFG team would like to thank all participants for a truly exciting as well as insightful event. The workshop clearly showed: There are a lot more topics to be researched.