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07.01.2018 15:10 Alter: 192 days

Nationalism and International Order

Call for Papers

Theme: Nationalism and International Order
Type: International Conference
Institution: Leiden University
Location: Leiden (Netherlands)
Date: 21.–23.11.2018
Deadline: 15.2.2018

Nationalism is commonly regarded as posing a challenge to
international stability and regional and global order more generally.
Arguably, nationalism encourages narrowly defined and zero-sum
security policies; it works against compromises and consensus; it
undermines international trust and cooperation. Nationalist movements
and states are considered to pose serious challenges to existing
states and international order.

However, there is much to be said for the opposite too. Enshrining
the corner stone of international relations — the sovereignty of the
national state — nationalism possibly contributed more than any other
political idea to the development and the stability of international
order. Euro-scepticism, secessionism or irredentism and other
manifestations of resistance against national and international
integration do not alter the crucial role of the national state in
international relations, or of the global system as such.

In other words, we are left to wonder what implications nationalism
precisely has for the future of international cooperation and
multilateralism, of regionalism and the international order writ
large. Nationalism has been an under-theorized concept in
International Relations research, leaving us scant guidance as to how
to understand major challenges in current international politics.
This conference aims to fill this gap. It intends to take stock of
existing ideas on the nexus between nationalism and international
order; it aims to identify major gaps in empirical research; and it
aspires to contribute to the theorization of international relations
and global politics.

We conceptualize international order as an actor-driven process of
ordering, which unfolds according to the distribution of material
resources in combination with the ideational preferences of major
actors. The argument for focusing on nationalism rests on three
prongs: its importance to international order, the relative lack of
coverage of the topic in current literature, and its relevance to
contemporary international affairs. Our notion of nationalism
encompasses broader concepts of group identity (based on
civilization, cultural, racial, or other exclusive discourses) and
how they have influenced regional and international order. This
allows us to extend our zone of inquiry both temporally and
spatially, exploring examples from before the modern era
(nationalisms before nations) and from outside of the West. We are
also explicitly interested in exploring notions of nationalism among
non-state actors. Modern communication technology creates the
possibility of imagined communities which transcend or ignore the
borders of territorial states, which we consider as a fascinating,
alternative way of understanding the challenge posed by nationalism
to the current international order (ISIS being a recent example).

In general, nationalism is under-theorized and explored in IR
literature. In 1993 James Mayall deplored the ‘absence of an
authoritative account of its international impact’, and one has yet
to emerge. There are still few comprehensive attempts to take stock
of the insights of nationalism literature on international relations.
There does not exist any systematic, comparative explanation of how
various IR theories have dealt with the issue of nationalism and
recent major synoptic treatments of both nationalism and of IR theory
more broadly do not explicitly discuss their interrelationship.

Keynote address:
Professor Andrew Hurrell, University of Oxford

Structure of conference / publication

Papers can be categorized as belonging in one of three sections:
theory, themes and cases.

- Theoretical papers are reflections on how nationalism is treated in
existing theoretical or scholarly traditions, especially in IR. We
also entertain papers discussing the relationship between nationalism
and international relations in Western or non-Western philosophical
traditions more broadly.

- Thematic papers may consider the relationship between nationalism
and particular facets or ‘institutions’ of international order,
including war, terrorism, balance of power, and multilateralism.
Thematic chapters could also discuss the relationship between
nationalism and other ideational factors relevant to international
order (race, religion, etc.) or with broader concepts in
international politics (globalization, regionalism, security,
development, etc.).

- Cases will be considered on the basis of: (a) contribution to
understanding the broad relationship between nationalism and
international order, from contemporary and historical perspectives;
(b) contribution to enhancing our understanding of the plurality of
ways ‘nationalism’ can be understood, and hence its possible
relationship to order; (c) achieving a broad geographical coverage,
especially insofar as not concentrating on the West.

Practical information

The conference will take place from 21-23 November 2018, at the
Humanities Campus of Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Dates to remember:

- February 15, 2018: Call for proposals closes
- March 1: Notification of acceptance
- October 31: Conference papers should be submitted

About proposals:

Papers should contain: name, address and affiliation of the author,
title of the paper and brief description (one page). Proposals
should be emailed to: nationalismconf(at)

Limited financial support will be available for a number of
attendees, particularly doctoral students and early-career scholars,
based on need.  Please indicate if you would like to be considered
for funding.

For more information, please contact:

André Gerrits
Institute for History
Leiden University
Email: a.w.m.gerrits(at)