Dear all,

Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster is organising a post-graduate conference on "The Social and the Political in Discourses of State-Building". This Call for Paper may be of interest for some of you (please find flyer attached).






The Department of Politics and International Relations,

University of Westminster, are hosting a Post-Graduate conference on

 “The Social and the Political in Discourses of State-Building

on Fri, 27th of April 2012



Confirmed Guest Speakers

Professor David Chandler,  Dr. James Ker-Lindsay, Dr. Patricia Owens, Dr. Jonathan Joseph, Dr. Dominik Zaum, Dr. Vanessa Pupavac, Dr. Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik



This conference, aimed specifically at post- graduate students, aims to discuss and analyse the shift from the political/legal discussions of humanitarian intervention, prevalent in the 1990s, to sociological discussions of state-building intervention today. Some of the core conceptual themes of state-building, which we wish to investigate, appear to have a social or sociological framing. For example, sovereignty is increasingly understood in terms of functional capacity rather than formal rights to self-government. Through the sociological shift, state-building interventions are seen to build sovereignty rather than undermine it. Similarly, democracy and its development are increasingly understood to be social processes of empowering or capacity-building citizens through intervention in the social realm of civil society. We want to discuss further the problematic of social empowerment and the shift to societal forms of intervention rather than interventions at the level of formal state institutions, now increasingly discredited. Whereas discourses of liberal internationalism forwarded understandings of a global community with global norms, state-building discourses increasingly focus on societal differences of culture, ideologies and social institutional frameworks. The emphasis on such conceptual and methodological themes might concern the turn to biopolitical understandings, the shift from state-based security to societal security under resilience, Arendtian framings of the rise of the social, and emergence of constructivism and sociological institutionalism, other new institutionalist and agent-centred framings in cognitive disciplines such as economics and history.


In particular we seek papers that broadly address the following issues:


* “Beyond Liberal Peace-building”: How have sociologically informed critiques shaped contemporary practices of state-building in post-conflict territories?

* “Good Governance vs Self-Determination”: Is sovereignty functional capacity or formal right to self-government?

* “The Future of Democracy Promotion”: How have framings of democracy as social empowerment shaped policy approaches to security and development?

* “Intervention in the Post-institutionalisation Era”: How have claims of prevention, empowerment and capacity-building shifted discussion to the social rather than legal/political terrain?

* “Agency International and Local”: How do concepts such as hybridity and resistance engage social and political understandings?

* “The Future of State-building”: Does the shift to sociological framings limit or enable critical approaches to state-building?



In addition to the issues raised the conference organisers are happy to receive any original submission around the subject of the rise of the social in discourses of state-building


If you wish to present a paper, please email a 300 word proposal and a short biographical note to [log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask]  by the 27th February 2012. Successful applicants will be notified by 5th of March 2012.


For updates and news visit the conference website:



Best wishes,

The organizing team

Elisa Randazzo, Pol Bargues, Jessica Schmidt

Jessica Schmidt
PhD Candidate
Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Westminster
32-38 Wells Street


The University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Registration number: 977818 England. Registered Office: 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW.


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