Workshops and Abstracts

The conference program consists of two plenary keynote lectures and paper presentations during workshop sessions (circa 10 persons per session). Presenters of accepted papers are asked to speak 15 minutes, followed by a discussion under the supervision of a session chair. There are nine different panels, organising three sessions each during the conference.

1. National Parliamentary Procedure and Democratization

Coordinators: Onni Pekonen and Henk te Velde.

The workshop addresses the question of the relationship between the development of parliamentary procedure and the breakthrough of modern liberal democracy. How did the European democratization affect parliaments’ deliberative practices, mainly from the late 19th century onwards? The workshop examines parliaments as representative assemblies, in which deliberation is organized and regulated by procedure. Despite their central role in building nation states, parliaments have always been international. Rules and practices of national parliaments have been created in close following of and comparison to models and developments abroad. In the 19th century, the British and French parliaments served as the most prominent and most cited models for deliberative assemblies across Europe. Lessons of foreign parliaments, however, were used selectively in national debates.

In Britain, parliamentary procedure was already established to a large extent before the reforms on representation of the 19th century. This was also the case in several European countries, big and small, central and peripheral. In the late 19th century, rising nationalist and language minorities, an increasing amount of items on the parliamentary agenda, extensions of suffrage and the birth of mass parties posed new challenges to parliamentarianism and led to revisions of the procedure in many countries. Obstruction campaigns spread across the parliaments of Europe resulting in restrictions on parliamentary freedoms, such as members’ right to speak and protection of the minority. The parliamentary principle of debating questions thoroughly pro et contra became increasingly contested.

Today, parliaments seem to have lost their appeal as deliberative fora. They are considered incapable of influencing or challenging government policies and ‘real deliberation’ is deemed to have disappeared from the plenary sessions. Parliaments are neglected in the discussions on ‘deliberative democracy’ and their role in the democratic process is challenged by demands for direct democracy. Historically, however, parliaments can be understood as ‘laboratories’ for democratic practices. They have produced a rich variety of deliberative innovations. In addition to international networking and transfer of ideas, parliaments and their procedures have served as important models for associations, organizations, parties and meetings.

The organizers of the workshop hope to receive papers that examine national deliberative practices mainly in the (late) 19th and early 20th centuries, e.g. procedural aspects of national parliaments, and their codification by parliamentary insiders, such as Thomas Erskine May and Eugène Pierre. The presentations should link the analysis of the changes in the procedure (and their authors) to broader national or international discussions of the period, and to changes in representative and democratic politics. Against this international background the (allegedly) national character of parliaments should be discussed.


2. Democratization and nationalism in Europe, 1870-1920

Coordinators: Eric Storm & Maarten van Ginderachter

From the last quarter of the 19th century, European societies gradually democratized and were thoroughly transformed by mass politics. Nationalism was deeply involved in this process and the subsequent nationalization of the masses has generally been presented as an almost linear process that was intimately connected to the widening of the suffrage and the general modernization process. As a result, it has been studied primarily as a top-down process in which the new voters had to be educated to become good and patriotic citizens. Consequently, the nation-building process began to target wider strata of the population. This became visible in education, in celebrating national holidays, erecting statues, organizing large scale commemorations, in a new interest in folklore, but also in more concrete efforts to include the lower classes into the nation, such as the founding of choirs and excursionist associations, initiatives to revive traditional arts and crafts, public housing initiatives and the construction of garden cities, which all received a rather pronounced nationalist veneer.
The relationship between nationalism and democratization in the period 1870-1920 is thus largely taken for granted and has hardly been problematized or analyzed explicitly. However, it is clear from many recent case-studies that the relationship between democratization and nationalism/nation-building was far from unidirectional, while it is also doubtful whether the nationalization of the masses merely was a top-down process.

Some of the questions this workshop wants to tackle are:

- to what extent has democratization impacted on nationalist movements?
- how was nationalism imbricated in the extension of suffrage or of social legislation? 
- does democratization necessarily imply a larger role of nationalism as a means of involving more citizens? 
- do state and sub-state nationalisms have similar relationships to democratization? 
- to what extent was the political emancipation of workers, farmers and women accompanied by a growing national awareness?


3. Beyond Democratic Peace. Democracy, the Nation State and War

Coordinator: Eugenio Cusumano

Since Kant's Perpetual Peace, democracies have been considered more peaceful than their authoritarian counterparts. The democratic peace narrative, however, remains contested. Several scholars, starting from Carl von Clausewitz, have noted a connection between democracy, nationalism and the advent of total, mass warfare, observing that democratizing states often conduct aggressive foreign policies. Moreover, even within the democratic peace camp,substantial disagreement remains as to whether democracies are more peaceful in general or simply do not go on war against one another and as to whether the causes of this peaceful behavior are institutional (electoral incentives, parliamentary veto points and constitutional checks and balances) or cultural (liberal and democratic norms).

Furthermore, while democracies do not necessarily behave peacefully, they tend to engage war in a peculiar fashion, adapting the conduct of military operations to various domestic political constraints and considerations. Hence, there is a need to go beyond the democratic peace narrative to provide more nuanced and sophisticated studies of the interplay between democratic politics and democracies military postures, capable of providing both theoretical and policy insights.

This workshop will contribute to the democratic peace debate by focusing on the empirical evidence provided by European states between World War I and today. By analyzing several historical and contemporary cases of European democracies military intervention, the workshop would offer a topical, multidisciplinary contribution to the existing scholarship on democratic peace, international security and democracy at large.


4. When the nation is not enough. Democratic rights on the global stage, 1870-1970

Coordinator: Anne-Isabelle Richard

Democratic rights are often conceived of, and have developed, in national frameworks. However, not all groups within the nation state have always felt they could stake their claims sufficiently on the national stage. In order to make their claims heard and increase their legitimacy they appealed to the international stage, a phenomenon that Keck and Sikkink call the boomerang effect. This workshop aims to contribute to this literature by investigating the connections between scales of mobilisation.

The groups involved tended to be those marginalised in society, such as workers, women, immigrants or groups that were not even perceived to be part of society such as colonial subjects. They were not the only ones to connect these scales of mobilisation however. Other, often more privileged, activists conceived of national democracy as part of international democracy and thus lobbied to connect the two. In taking an inclusive approach and including papers on all these groups, this workshop aims to examine how claims to democracy on the international as well as the national level involved processes of in- and exclusion.

The international fora targeted included both more formal venues such as international organisations, but also more informal platforms such as diasporic groups and transnational (social) movements. By bringing together papers covering a range of platforms this workshop aims to start a conversation on the connections between these trans- and international platforms.

This workshop invites papers that explore the use of the international sphere as an alternative and/or additional venue to the national level to claim democratic rights between 1870 and 1970. We are particularly interested in contributions that examine the connections between different scales of mobilisation (local, national, colonial, trans- and international) and between different regions across the globe.


5. Democracy, the Nation State, and their adversaries

Coordinators: Joost Augusteijn, Constant Hijzen & Mark Leon de Vries

A democracy and its constituency only explicitly define themselves when they come under threat. This panel seeks to explore the tension that develops when oppositional groups within a democratic society challenge its fundamental principles. Such challenges can be based on very diverse motivations, ranging from groups that criticize the existing institutional framework on ideological grounds while seeking a wider international connection, through those who oppose the current geographic boundaries of the democratic entity, to elements seeking a sharper definition of those who are to be included in and excluded from the nation. By using violent and other extra-legal as well as legal means, these socialists, separatists, rightwing nationalists, and other (radical) oppositional groups constitute a potential threat to the survival of a democracy and its institutions. These groups, moreover, often challenge implicit and explicit assumptions regarding the meaning and boundaries of democracy, i.e. the groups that are considered part of the democratic polity and the groups that are not, as well as what ideas and repertoires of action are considered democratic and undemocratic.

This panel will focus on the interaction between the state and these oppositional groups, from legal and extra-legal political action to the verbal utterances of representatives from both sides, and their effect on the political discourse within the democratic polity. In this way we explore how threats to democracy elicit new definitions of democracy.

We invite scholars at all phases of their careers to present and discuss original research on particular regional, national, and international historical case studies that explore the abovementioned themes. Panelists are expected to circulate a draft of their paper of the panel and read the papers submitted by the other panelists in advance. Presentations will be relatively informal, rather than the verbatim reading of papers, highlighting particular thematic, methodological, or conceptual issues that may serve as the basis for further discussion. Following the panel, we intend to submit a collection of revised papers for publication.


6. Democratic Distrust: Power, Paranoia, and the People

Coordinator: Eduard van de Bilt

This workshop aims to explore the role of distrust in democratic traditions on the basis of a few of the individuals, parties, and movements advocating it in the transatlantic world from the end of the eighteenth century to the present.

As French political historian Pierre Rosanvallon among others has argued, distrust should be part of democratic traditions because, next to representative bodies and parliamentary procedures, it helps legitimize democracy. Yet Rosanvallon also warns that, in movements such as populism, political distrust negates its very usefulness because it turns simply or purely negative.

How democratic and valuable is political distrust? Next to exploring the conditions that give rise to political distrust, this workshop aims to deal with the question when distrust turns excessive and impracticable--when the vigilance expressed by it no longer differs from paranoia. Does especially populism represent one of these moments? Seeking to give reality to the fictional concept of the people, the distrust against governing elites that populist movements exhibit frequently involves glorifications of the nation that undermine, or at least shift, their democratic potential: they displace the concept of the people by the concept of the nation. Does populist distrust undermine the very democratic elements it aims to foster? Is democratic distrust easily tainted by these populist elements and as a result in need of being used selectively?

These questions will be explored on the basis of the transatlantic history of Western Europe and the United States. Politically distrustful individuals and movements from the Age of Democratic Revolutions and these countries many past and current-day populist persuasions - and those questioning their ideas should be the subjects of this workshop.


7. ‘Congomania’ and Forms of the National State in Africa (1950s – 1960s)

Coordinator: Alanna O'Malley

When the Congo exploded into conflict in 1960 it was a moment of crisis not just for the country itself but also for the broader international community. One of the key points of intersection between the Cold War and the process of decolonization, the Congo can be regarded as a contested space in which forms of the national state were debated and evolved and in which the very role of the national state as the basic building bloc of international society was challenged.

This workshop will consider how nation building and democratization took place in Africa before and after the Congo crisis. As European imperialism crumbled and nation states moved into the Black Atlantic, the nation state as an organizing tool was reconsidered. While the discussion about the future of the Congo was taking place, there was simultaneously a broader reimagining of what the national state was, as decolonization forcefully reshaped the contours of international society. The Congo experience exploded many myths about the ease of installing a Western-friendly regime in a post-colonial state and the difficulties of constructing a nation state in Africa.

Potential papers should be addressed towards nation-states in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s and could examine an array of topics including:

- Democratization and nation-building after decolonization
- The role of the Cold War in promoting nation states in Africa
- Forms of the post-colonial national state in Africa
- Decolonization and Democracy

Timing: This is a particularly pertinent time for such a workshop to take place. The publication, and popularity of Congo, The Epic History of a People by Leiden alumnus David Van Reybrouck has renewed interest in the history of the Congo, disseminating the topic extensively. In academia, the surge of publications in the area has even been referred to as "Congomania".


8. Necropolitics and Political Authority: Violence and Death in the Control over Populations

Coordinator: José Carlos G. Aguiar & Erella Grassiani

The power over life and death is a resource to govern and control populations. Political authorities, colonial powers and national states haveprofusely exerted violence and imposed death, during armed and civil conflicts throughout history. Today,under the neoliberal order, societies in all regions of the world are exposed to wars on terrorism, drugs, criminality, extremism, radicalisation and other forms of deviancy with different kinds of perpetrators and victims. Brutality and barbarism against populations and minorities leads to human degradation and destruction.

The display of violence, torture and death plays a key role in the symbolical domination over societies. The horror in the practices of violence and death conveys different messages in various arenas, where the state but also non-state actors become involved. In the context of neoliberal democracy, violence and the politics of death do influence the relation between citizens and their political authorities. Clearly, death is an instrument in the struggle for and exercise of power, and it co-defines neoliberal definitions of democracy.

This panel explores the different geographical and historical contexts in which necropolitics have definedstate-society relations, and the extent it (perversely) influences definitions and projects of democracy. Necropolitics are visible in the relation between capitalism and war, militarisation, authoritarianism, terror, cultures of violence and their fetichism, that have different social registers, including the mass media. What are the messages death and torture can convey? What kinds of technologies and techniques are herein employed? What is the impact of violent death on democracy projects? How do fear, death and violence constitute political legitimacy? What are their cultural expressions? We invite scholars from the social sciences and humanities to look at the multiple political, social and cultural arenas across geographies where the politics of death become noticeable, and the extent they underpin or erode legitimacy.


9. Politics of Discontent in the Southern Cone

Coordinators: Michelle Carmody & Patricio Silva

The past five years have seen the emergence of multitudinous protests across Latin America, the Middle East and more recently East Asia. In these protests we see the middle class emerging as a major political actor, making demands over democracy and representation. This is despite rapid advances in economic development and living standards that, as the literature used to lead us to believe, would eventually result in deeper democratisation and a more stable polity.

In several South American countries (such as Argentina, Chile, and Brazil) the new forms of protest that have emerged in recent years have not been over the form and content of citizenship. Today, the new social movements are rather seeking change within the existing structure. Middle class movements are seeking to reaffirm state-civil society relations and are insisting on the central role of the state in mediating their demands. They are claiming that the state has not lived up to its part of the democratic contract, and are demanding that it start to do so.

This panel will explore the various dimensions of the revolution of rising expectations as it has played out on various national stages in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. It will look at the core demands of middle class protests and examine them in terms of the implications they have for the ongoing process of forming and consolidating democratic states. Key to understanding this will be the influence of economic growth and past inequality, and the question of legitimacy. In doing so, it will deepen understandings of how these new forms of protest against the state transform the practice of democracy as well as national identity.


Last Modified: 12-01-2016