Thursday, 2 February 2012


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 the 27th of April 2012.

Guest Speakers:

Professor David Chandler, University of Westminster

Dr. James Ker-Lindsay, London School of Economics

Dr. Patricia Owens, University of Sussex

Professor Oliver Richmond, University of St Andrews (tbc)

Dr. Jonathan Joseph, University of Kent

Dr. Dominik Zaum, University of Reading

Dr. Vanessa Pupavac, University of Nottingham

Dr. Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, Aston University

Conference Venue:

The Boardroom, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW, University of Westminster.

The Organisers:

Elisa Randazzo, Pol Bargués, Jessica Schmidt,

Dr. Aidan Hehir and Professor David Chandler

Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

If you wish to present a paper, please email 

a 300 word proposal and a short biographical note to

 randazzoelisa @ or polbargues @

by the 27th February 2012.

Successful applicants will be notified 

by 5th of March 2012.


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.


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.

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