Report: KFG at International Studies Association Convention in Atlanta

Jul 04, 2016

Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse with their godchildren

Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse with their godchildren
Image Credit: Robb D. Cohen Robb Cohen Photography & Video

The 57th ISA Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, from March 16-19. Once more, ISA´s annual convention proves to inspire a fruitful exchange among scholars and practitioners crisscrossing disciplines. 5938 participants attended the ISA in Atlanta, which signals an even greater success of the conference compared to the ISA Convention in New Orleans last year. This year´s motto “Exploring Peace” hits the mark of current challenges in world politics, laying the foundation for a reflective yet confident debate.

KFG and the SFB 700 “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood” were glad to present their flourishing work with an experienced and reliable joint appearance. Alongside the extensive participation of KFG affiliates in exciting discussions on panels as well as off stage, the launch of the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism (edited by Tanja Börzel and Thomas Risse) undoubtedly marked a highlight of this year’s ISA Convention.

Overview Panels

KFG-Scholars engaged in various panel discussions spread over the three conference days, presenting their contributions. Kicking off the first day on the panel revolving around regionalism and regional governance, KFG’s PhD-student Harrison Kalunga Mwilima outlined his work on “Overlapping Regionalism in Peace and Security Sector: The Case of East African Community.” On the same day, a panel chaired by KFG fellow Simon Koschut focused on collective emotions in world politics.

By exploring the limits of international community, panelist Mor Mitrani (Hebrew University of Jerusalem/KFG) concentrated on the question of “The International Community: What Are You Talking about?”

KFG director Tanja A. Börzel and Sören Stapel (SFB 700, former KFG PhD student) involved in the evolution of overlapping regionalism in the 21st century. In addition to chairing the respective panel, Sören Stapel sketched his research on “Accounting for Overlapping Regionalism: Comparing Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.”

In the panel on discourse analysis, the focus was on new approaches and understandings. Illustrating the importance of understanding, Mor Mitrani gave insights on “Talking It Out: Can Discourse Solve the Agent/Structure Problem?”. Simon Koschut mapped new approaches by assessing “From Interlocking to Interblocking Regionalism: NATO, the EU, the OSCE and Regional Crisis Management”.

The second conference day proceeded with numerous interesting topics. Mathis Lohaus (KFG completion grant) sketched his work dealing with “Anticorruption at the Continental Level: Comparing the AU and OAS Experiences” on the panel covering the international politics of fighting corruption.

Jean A. Garrison (University of Wyoming and KFG fellow) introduced “Internationalization as a Strategic Goal: Organizing Priorities and Coordinating Efforts across the Campus” in the panel coping with campus internationalization and internal relations in terms of partnerships and strategies.

Starting day three of the conference, Tanja A. Börzel chaired the panel on integrity in the realm of challenges, contributions, and innovations of anticorruption interventions in building peaceful state-society relations. As panel chair, Simon Koschut guided a debate on identity in foreign and security policy.

As a particular highlight, KFG directors Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse debated their recent publication, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism, in an illustrious roundtable session. In a room full of interested scholars from different parts of the world and at different stages of their careers, the editors as well as handbook authors Etel Solingen (University of California at Irvine) and Amitav Acharya (American University) gave an overview on the book and their respective chapters. The insights gained from the book were discussed by prominent regionalism scholars, such as Louise Fawcett (University of Oxford), Zhimin Chen (Fudan University), and Monica Herz (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro); all of them based and interested in different regions of the world. They focused on different aspects of the handbook, discussing not only the ‘comparability’ of regions, but also the impact the findings may have on the study of specific regions. A fruitful debate evolved among discussants and editors/authors, but also the audience. In the end, attendees gained the impression, that the newly evolved field of comparative regionalism may offer many interesting roads for future research.

Concluding the third day of the conference, Brooke Coe (KFG Post-Doc) brought in her research on “Collective Image and Regional Normative Orders: Comparing Africa and Southeast Asia” in the panel dealing with international organizations in Africa.

Concluding an exceptional conference, the final day offered highly interesting panels. KFG director Thomas Risse chaired the panel examining areas of limited statehood and pursuing the question what makes state and non-state governance effective and legitimate. In addition, Thomas Risse functioned as discussant in the panel on the unsteady life of international norms.

Oheneba Boateng (KFG PhD student) reported on “Election Petitions in Africa: Between Credibility Signals and Residual Peace” in the panel focusing on peace processes and post-conflict challenges in Africa.

Last but not least, a final panel took a comparative perspective with a great participation of KFG affiliates covering membership in regional organizations and the development of democratic norms. Tanja A. Börzel and Sören Stapel centered on “With a Little Help from my Peers: Development and Diffusion of Democratic Norms in Regional Organizations.” Stefano Palestini (KFG Post-Doc) delved into “The Design and Application of Mechanisms of Democratic Protection in Contemporary South America.” And KFG Senior Fellow Jeffrey T. Checkel (Simon Fraser University/Freie Universität Berlin) engaged as a discussant.

On a superior level of academic discourse, the exchange of ideas and thoughts produced a truly broad range of highly interesting insights.

The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism: Reception and Book Launch

In the evening hours of Wednesday, 16 March, the KFG hosted a reception in the Grand Ballroom of the conference hotel. The pleasant atmosphere served as perfect backdrop for launching “The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism.” The editors of the book, KFG directors Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse, presented the book and welcomed numerous authors. KFG and also our partnering institution SFB 700 were present with a wide range of information material about the work of both institutions as well as several highlighted publications. Rounding off the evening, guests and current and former KFG affiliates got together in a laid-back atmosphere.

In Retrospective

The annual ISA convention succeeded in gathering scholars and practitioners covering a vast array of fascinating topics. The convention illustrates the diversified field of international studies and scholars affiliated with the KFG were pleased to share their contributions with colleagues from across the globe. We are looking forward to the 58th ISA Convention under the moto “Understanding Change in World Politics” in Baltimore from February 22-25, 2017.