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The Affective Glue of European Integration

The role of transnational political, religious, and economic networks and their shared emotional vocabulary in shaping European integration (1930-’57)

8-9 April 2019, Utrecht University

How have transnational networks shaped the start-up of European integration (1930-1957) and how did they develop and make use of a shared emotional vocabulary to articulate their ambitions, dreams, longings, and dreads in this respect?

While there have been numerous accounts of the early years of European integration emphasizing the importance of economic and (geo-)political interests, the emotional dimension in the history of European integration has often been overlooked.

Research on the role of emotions in international relations has shown that emotions both inform the perception of interests and ideas, and are actively used to mobilize or constrain support for certain political ideas. Moreover, emotions are important to understand the interactions among policy-making elites. For example, a shared emotive vocabulary facilitates political negotiations, and political ideas that are tied to dominant “emotion norms” (i.e. affective glue) can be expected to be more successful.

Since the early years of European integration were characterized by an initial rather “open” competition among alternative blueprints of a future European order, it is of critical importance to examine the way in which both backward-looking emotions based on experiences (such as trust and hate) and forward-looking emotions underpinning expectations (such as hope and fear), shaped both the substantive ideas of those blueprints as well as the interaction among policymaking elites.

Transnational networks, overlapping in political, economic and religious make-up, and in intra-European and trans-Atlantic geographical spheres, were the key fora that enabled competing ideas and emotions to be articulated, shaped, and developed. Hence, these transnational networks may tell us in what ways fear, hope and (dis)trust informed the European integration process. How were emotional beliefs tied to a specific religious vocabulary, such as reconciliation, solidarity, and responsibility, mobilized to gain support for particular blueprints of Europe?

In light of the accumulated attention for emotions and transnational networks among historians and international relations scholars, this workshop aims to bring together researchers working on the “affective glue” of European integration in its early years, from the 1930s until the launch of the European Economic Community (1957).

We welcome papers that address the following topics:

  • The role of individual key actors in the articulation or political translation of blueprints and their transnational relations with other players in the field;
  • The role and interaction of specific hubs and groups (political, economic, ecumenical) in shaping the start-up of European integration (circle of friends, group of civil servants, diplomats, entrepreneurs, etc.);
  • The development of and contestation over central emotional beliefs concerning blueprints of Europe, both over time and at critical junctures (genealogy of ‘hope’, ‘solidarity’, ‘responsible society’, etc.);
  • Theoretical approaches on the role of emotions and emotional beliefs in understanding the history of European integration.

As part of this workshop we will study the options for a special issue/edited volume.

The workshop takes place at Utrecht University on 8 & 9 April 2019. Travel (within Europe) and accommodation will be provided for paper-givers.

  • Deadline abstract(300-500 words) & short biography: 11 January 2019.

Abstracts should be sent to Dr Trineke Palm at [email protected].

We will inform applicants by 31 January 2019.

  • Deadline full paper (8.000-10.000 words): 29 March 2019.

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