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12.09.2021 14:14 Alter: 39 days

Antiliberal Internationalism (20th c)

Call for Papers

Theme: Antiliberal Internationalism (20th c)
Subtitle: Beyond Left and Right?
Type: International Conference
Institution: University of Groningen
  University of Amsterdam
Location: Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Date: 12.–13.1.2023
Deadline: 1.12.2021


Since the turn of the millennium, all over the globe new forms of
international collaboration have surfaced that explicitly position
themselves against the liberal international order established after
the fall of the Berlin Wall. Examples of this new antiliberal
internationalism are the Congress of European ‘conservative
nationalists’ held in Rome (February 2020), the Visegrád Group
meetings which offer a platform for self-proclaimed ‘illiberal’
government leaders from Central Europe, the nebulous network of
far-right ‘traditionalist’ anti-liberal intellectuals including the
likes of Alexandr Dugin and Steve Bannon, the leftist anti-neoliberal
and anti-austerity Greek-Spanish collaboration between Syriza and
Podemos and its grassroots constituencies, cross-border far-right
protest movements such as Pegida, the Russian-Chinese strategic
alliance, or the ‘Buddhist international’ in South-Eastern Asia. In
scholarship, these and other contemporary examples of antiliberalism
across national boundaries are frequently explained as consequences
of the recent cultural backlash, tendencies of authoritarianism and
the populist zeitgeist against the backdrop of globalising societies.
However, in hindsight, antiliberal internationalism is not
necessarily a timely or new phenomenon – nor can current
manifestations of it be understood or explained detached from
historical precursors.

Research questions

At this conference, specialists from different disciplines, periods,
and regions aim to uncover the longer twentieth-century trajectories
and genealogies of antiliberal internationalism: sentiments,
outlooks, strategies, and ideologies. To what extent do contemporary
antiliberal internationalisms build on older patterns, traditions,
ideas or recurring antiliberal tropes? How might historical
trajectories and genealogies of antiliberalism in internationalism be
qualified and conceptualized? How has antiliberal critique shaped and
informed internationalism? Can we observe (non)ideological variations
of antiliberalism in internationalism across time and space? And to
what extent do these manifestations of antiliberalism interrelate,
overlap, or coincide? Do antiliberal repertoires and critiques travel
within the sphere of the international? What historical and
contingent circumstances help explain the particular nature of
antiliberal tropes in internationalism over time?

Antiliberal internationalist criticism can be aimed against multiple
perceived traits of the liberal world order: the liberal state and
democracy, market liberalism and capitalism, liberal consumerism and
individualism, liberal cosmopolitanism and universalism, liberal
belief in technology, reason and progress, and liberal modernity at
large. Antiliberal internationalism can, for instance, take the form
of a ‘nationalist internationalism’, but, such as in the case of the
Vatican, can also manifest itself as an antiliberal internationalism
critical of the predominance of the nation state. Antiliberalism can
be viewed as a phenomenon of political and intellectual elites, but
also more popular, colloquial expressions of antiliberal sentiments
will be studied, which may be found in border-crossing protest
movements for instance.

The point of departure of the conference is that ‘liberalism’ and
‘anti-liberalism’ are not fixed entities. ‘(Anti)Liberalism’ was and
is as much defined by its enemies as by its advocates. International
actors can position themselves as both liberal and antiliberal in
different contexts. Moreover, antiliberal internationalists often do
not reject liberalism in its entirety; while they repudiate certain
aspects (ranging from liberal support for open markets or global
elites and institutions), other aspects (such as modern technology)
are embraced. Historical actors borrowed concepts from varying
ideological traditions, prompting the question of whether the
ideological left-right dichotomy is helpful in understanding
antiliberal internationalism in the first place, and if not, whether
more yielding analytical categories are available to historians. The
conference will result in a publication that aims to explore the
manifestations and articulations of antiliberalism as a lens to study
twentieth-century internationalism, and thus contribute in new ways
to the historical and political study of the international.


We invite speakers to reflect on the following (non-exclusive) list of topics:

- Intellectual traditions at the intersection of antiliberalism and
- The role of religion (Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism,
 Orthodoxy, Buddhism)
- Antiliberalism and conservative ideologies
- Antiliberalism and scientific internationalism
- Antiliberalism and the radical left
- Antiliberalism and (de)colonization
- Nationalist internationalism
- Antiliberalism and ecology
- Antiliberal communities and networks 
- Technocracy and antiliberalism
- Authoritarian corporatism
- The association of ‘liberalism’ with ‘the West’


We invite those who are interested to write a proposal, including a
title, a 400-word abstract and a short CV including current
institutional affiliation and relevant publications to Matthijs Lok
(m.m.lok(at) before 1 December 2021.


Dr Marjet Brolsma, Dr Robin de Bruin (University of Amsterdam)
Dr Matthijs Lok (University of Amsterdam)
Dr Rachel Johnston-White (University of Groningen)
Dr Stefan Couperus (University of Groningen)


Dr Matthijs Lok
European Studies Department
University of Amsterdam
Postbus 1619
1000 BP Amsterdam