The aim of this Section is to focus on political conflicts in their various forms, and the ways in which they are linked to different usages, contestations and discussions of concepts.
Political conflicts pose challenges or threats in various degrees, not just on life and humanity, but also on political order and democratic institutions. They can come in different shapes and forms and last for longer or shorter periods of time. What they all share, however, is some kind of conceptual disagreement on principles, values or arguments. Ethnic conflicts, for example, can be continuous, whereas European integration forms a very different sort of chain of 'crises' that can also be detrimental for a whole continent. At the same time, political conflict is a basic feature of representative democracies. In parliaments, political disagreement and debate constitute politics which is conducted following established rules and procedure.
Paying attention to what is contested, not just in political life but in other types of debates as well, is not just the starting point for political research but can also constitute breaks or shifts in current debates, historical perception or established grand narratives. What has been previously considered as incontestable or without a doubt, can suddenly seem more problematic and worthy of further research. For example, human rights, nation states and the European integration can seem meaningless or products of an inevitable 'progress', constituting questionable political scenarios, if the conceptual struggles over their political aspects are left ignored.
Dr Taru Haapala is a research fellow at the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä. She has held visiting fellowships at the Queen Mary Centre of History of Political Thought, University of London, and at the Department of History and Civilization of the European University Institute in Florence. She has co-chaired Panels on deliberation in three previous ECPR General Conferences.
Dr Anna Kronlund is a post-doctoral researcher specializing in US politics at the John Morton Center for North American Studies, University of Turku. Together with Dr Haapala, she has co-chaired Panels on politics of deliberation in two previous ECPR General Conferences.
MA Gabriele Ciampini is a PhD student at Università degli Studi di Firenze. Previously he has acted as Co-Chair for a Section on EU Politics at the ECPR Graduate Student Conference held in Tartu 2016 and a Chair of the Panel ‘Liberalism and Economics’ at the ECPR General Conference in Montréal.
This Section will be formed of the following Panels addressing issues ranging from ethnic conflicts to the European past and revolutions, with both modern and historical as well as theoretical and empirical emphases:
1) Concept of Crisis in International Politics
Chair: Anna Kronlund, University of Turku, Co-chair: Paul-Erik Korvela, University of Jyväskylä, Discussant: Teemu Häkkinen, University of Jyväskylä
The significance of crises in the international system is well recognized. However, there seems to be a lack of clear understanding on what constitutes a crisis? The concept of crisis is often considered within or between states, a matter of domestic politics or foreign policy. This panel investigates how the concept of crisis is used in the vocabulary of international politics. It discusses what kinds of events are constituted as crisis and how these are to be analyzed and conceptualized. How to deal with crises involving transnational actors and institutions? Increasingly crises are also more difficult to grasp or define when traditional wars or states of emergencies have become rare. Crises no longer take place only between nation states, as informal networks and actors are present almost invariably. Crises also transcend the boundaries of foreign and domestic policy and strategy. It is therefore essential to inquire how to deal with the interlinkage between international and national levels of crisis.
2) Concepts in revolutions
Chairs: Douglas Moggach, University of Ottawa and Samuel Hayat, Institut d’études politiques de Lille, Discussant: Douglas Moggach, University of Ottawa
The aim of the Panel is to assess the effects of revolutions on key concepts in political vocabulary. The focus will be set on the concepts of freedom, universality, and the state.
3) Conceptual Conflicts in International Relations
Chair: Jemima Repo, University of Newcastle, Discussant: Leena Malkki, University of Helsinki
This panel discusses conflicts between concepts used in various contexts of international relations.
4) Conceptual Politics of European Integration
Chair: Taru Haapala, University of Jyväskylä, Co-chair: Teemu Häkkinen, University of Jyväskylä, Discussant: Elena García-Guitián, Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
The aim of this Panel is to discuss the controversies related to European integration in national and global contexts since the Second World War. These controversies often stem from conceptual disagreements that address key issues relating to various debates or institutions of the integration, such as representation, human rights or freedom of speech. To give a further example, the concept of federalism was perceived and used from a very different standpoint after the devastation of World War II than it is today. As the aim of these controversies is often to redefine and change the way European unity is seen and valued, they are treated as inherently political. The Panel takes up the politics related to the origins of the European political project as well as the many changes of emphases in the functions and workings of European institutions until present. It asks, for example, how and in what historical circumstances these conceptual controversies or shifts in perception were brought about.
5) Conflicting Concepts in Making Representations
Chair: Katja Mäkinen, University of Jyväskylä, Co-chair: Sanna Valkonen, University of Lapland, Discussant: Katja Mäkinen, University of Jyväskylä
The uses and meanings of concepts create competing notions of states of affairs in the empirical reality. These notions are interpretations, which vary depending on perspectives, contexts and actors involved. Such contested and competing representations may concern - and shape - both past, present and future. They are made and used at all levels of policies from local to global and from national to the European Union and in organizations such as Unesco or non-governmental movements, for example. Representations can be constructed for various purposes and they can be used in justifying the desired aims and creating legitimacy. For instance, representations always create and contribute to community construction and the demarcations between the included and the excluded. The panel discusses politics of representation and conceptual conflicts in various contexts. Textual, visual and material representations made in discourses and practices in different fields are addressed in the papers. The papers focus on official, influential and popular representations as well as more marginal ones. They discuss, for instance, conflicts over ethnicity or indigeneity, uses of memory and narratives in foreign policy, representations constructed through producing and formulating cultural heritage and memory as well as the role of locals and local participation in conceptual conflicts.
6) Conflicts within Political Modernity. The Uneasy Co-existence between Catholicism, Liberalism, and the Nation-State
Chair: Gabriele Ciampini, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Co-chair: Ettore Bucci, Scuola Normale Superiore, Discussant: Ettore Bucci, Scuola Normale Superiore
The purpose of this panel is to offer an overview of the conflicting relationship between some doctrines in the history of contemporary political thought. In particular, it aims to describe some moments in which political Catholicism and Liberalism have contributed, often in a competing way, to the formation of the idea of the nation-state. Catholicism has often had a hard time accepting some elements of political modernity, such as the nation-state. Similarly, even Liberalism has had a contentious relationship with this concept. Each paper analyzes a different chronological, geographical and political context, in order to show how the relationship between these concepts changes depending on the circumstances.
7) Controversial Democracy: Conflicts between idea and practice
Chair: Ana Isabel Rodríguez Iglesias, Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra, Discussant: Ludvig Beckman, Stockholm University
This Panel deals with controversies between the idea of democracy and the realities of democratic practices.
8) Putting 'Deregulation' in its Place
Chair: Julia Rone, European University Institute, Co-chair: Ola Innset, European University Institute, Discussant: Manès Weisskircher, European University Institute
The current panel explores the contested content of the concept of deregulation, and its consequences for policy debates in finance, trade and the governance of production. We analyze the concept's awkward relations with neoliberal political rationality, by studying particular strategic deployments of 'deregulation' by public and private actors and the multivalent consequences of those discourses. Finally, we explore how the concept of 'deregulation' has been deployed in popular mobilizations against free trade and the ways it has been bridged with broader alter- or anti-globalization concerns.