7th Annual GPSG Workshop: Cosmopolitanism and the Study of German Politics
September 24th 2010, Durham University School of Government and International Affairs, Durham
The 2010 workshop was organised around the theme of cosmopolitanism. Selected contributions will be published in a special issue of the journal German Politics and Society. The aim of the workshop was for colleagues to assess their areas of expertise from a cosmopolitan perspective, thereby providing an innovative unifying theme for the special issue, whilst retaining a broad range of case studies based on specialist interests. The theoretical and methodological debate surrounding cosmopolitanism is relatively new, but it raises important issues about our empirical focus on German politics and how we can incorporate the global and the transnational, but also the ethical and the normative aspects of cosmopolitanism into our work.
This interdisciplinary workshop tackled important questions, such as: How to trace cosmopolitanism in the sphere of domestic politics? How to discern traces of ethical and normative cosmopolitanism in Germany’s foreign policy? How to apply a supranational framework to the national context? Is a cosmopolitan methodology even thinkable, when applied to a single state? If so, how do we study the German state from a cosmopolitan perspective? How does cosmopolitanism fare from a theoretical standpoint?
With its long-standing commitment to European integration, its globalised economy, its experience of reintegrating a German diaspora, and its mixed record in coping with migration and asylum-seekers, Germany is a particularly interesting case for study from a cosmopolitan perspective, offering fresh insights across the spectrum of Germany’s domestic and foreign politics.Cosmopolitan thinking's implications for domestic authority and legitimacy are crucial, as nation-states seek to square popular support for national autonomy with limited scope for ‘going it alone’ amongst dense webs of regional alliances, trading networks and international organisations. For instance, Germany is a prime example of how contemporary nation-builders have responded to regional integration as a significant boost, rather than a potential threat, to their country’s power and influence.
Rather than considering the cosmopolitan challenge as fundamentally antagonistic to supposedly beleaguered nation-states, then, the workshop set out to study the interplay of German politics and nation-building with cosmopolitan forces. Not only did this explore new directions in the study of German politics, brought together in the special issue of German Politics and Society, but it also provides a solid basis for wider comparative work based on cross-cutting research themes.
German Politics Specialist Group and Europäische Regierungssysteme im Vergleich, Technische Universität Chemnitz
6th Annual Workshop in Chemnitz, 9th-10th November 2009
|Germany 20 years after reunification: Still in search of ‘Inner Unity’?|
This year’s annual German Politics Specialist Group workshop coincided with the twentieth anniversary marking the fall of the Berlin Wall. In honour of this occasion, the GPSG workshop was held in Chemnitz; a city colloquially referred to as the ‘Manchester of Saxony’ and formerly known in the German Democratic Republic as Karl-Marx Stadt, whose monumental figure incidentally still looms over the centre of the city.
Members of the GPSG and postgraduate students were invited to discuss a range of issues currently facing the Federal Republic. Three panels reflected on the following themes: convergence or divergence in the political culture of the former German states; Germany’s external affairs and global military engagement of the Bundeswehr; differences in culture and identity between East and West Germany; collective memory construction of the events of the 9th November 1989; Germany’s economy twenty years on and the use of the internet as a resource to tackle voter abstention and political apathy.
The GPSG welcomed contributions from postgraduate students at the Technische Universität in a panel dedicated to exploring how the political landscape of Germany has adapted to unification twenty years on. The first paper presented by Maria Lindner investigated immediate structural changes to the political system and the German constitution after the 9th November 1989. Following on from this, Thomas Rohde assessed the changes relating to the electoral and party systems at local and national level. The presentation looked into the increasing volatility and unpredictability caused by the entry of Die Linke (formerly the PDS) into national parliaments. The final paper in this panel presented by Benjamin Page offered an insight into Germany’s foreign policy and global military presence. How Germany’s history has come to influence current decision-making on this topic was debated as well as public opinion on Germany’s role in Afghanistan.
The second panel was dedicated to identity politics and continuing East-West differences. Alexandra Kaiser (Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, Leipzig) delivered an interesting and colourful presentation on how the events of the 9th November have been mapped discursively both by and for the public. In her case-study, Alexandra demonstrated that the 9th October has actually been given more precedence in local regions in eastern Germany. The presentation also dealt with the physical and institutional aspects of memory such as symbolism and ceremonies and how these have been performed twenty years on from the fall of the Wall. Sadiqa Riazat (University of Bangor) explored the issues of inner unity and how an ‘East German distinctiveness’ arose following the socialisation period of living in the GDR and the situational period of unification. The presence of an East German national consciousness in all three periods (GDR, unification, present day) was discussed and how at each point it has been redefined subjectively to hamper, but not sufficiently endanger inner unity. The final presentation in this panel was given by Patricia Hogwood (University of Westminster) who analysed how consumption patterns have come to differ between East and West Germans post-unification. East Germans’ consumption power and how they have politicised consumerism by ‘buying East’ was debated along with continuing East-West differences in buying patterns, value attitudes and advertising strategies.
The final session assessed Germany’s current economic situation amidst a period of financial crisis. Lothar Funk (University of Applied Sciences, Düsseldorf) provided a detailed overview on Germany’s current economic state and East-West labour market and savings-investment trends. The last presentation given by Hartwig Pautz (Glasgow Caledonian University) explored the potential role of the internet in tackling voter abstention and political apathy. The case study website www.abgeordnetenwatch.de was presented and the various ways it could function to increase voter-representative contact and foster transparency in the democratic process were discussed.
The workshop concluded with a GPSG business meeting. Agenda items included developing a constitution for the GPSG and the introduction of membership fees. Co-convenor Ruth Wittlinger agreed to send a draft constitution to all members for review and amendments. Ideas for new marketing and membership opportunities for the group as well as support for an application in response to the recent DAAD call for promoting German Studies in the UK were welcomed. Furthermore, the group was informed that a panel for the forthcoming PSA conference in Edinburgh had been proposed. The location and date for next year’s GPSG workshop are to be confirmed in due course.
As the workshop drew to a close all participants were unanimous in thanking the principal hosts and organisers - Prof. Dr Gerd Strohmeier, at the Technische Universität, Chemnitz and Ruth Wittlinger - for organising a successful and productive workshop.
Politics Specialist Group – 5th Annual Workshop
'Conflict and Consensus: German Politics and Society in Transition'
The annual workshop of the German Politics Specialist Group took place at the Politische Akademie Tutzing in Germany this year and focused on the current domestic political and social changes in the Federal Republic. The local organisers Michael Spieker from the academy and Gerd Strohmeier from the TU Chemnitz provided an excellent platform for the workshop which allowed participants to engage in profound discussions and a number of social activities.
The four panels at the workshop covered a variety of issues related to the changes in Germany’s domestic and foreign policy, including questions of memory and identity, changes in the party system and Germany’s role in the EU and the future of the transatlantic partnership. Claire Sutherland (University of Manchester) and Ruth Wittlinger (Durham University) presented papers on the discussion about Germany’s collective memory and Chancellor Merkel’s approach towards Germany’s past. Melanie Kintz (University of Greifswald) outlined patterns of recruitment and legislative careers of German MPs in the Bundestag. Klaus Larres (University of Ulster) analysed the development of US-German relations under successive German Chancellors. Guido Tiemann (Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna) discussed the different reasons for the erosion of public and partisan support for European integration in the Western and Eastern part of Germany. Alex Schwell (Europa Universität Viadriana, Frankfurt/Oder) presented a paper on the securitization of the Schengen enlargement in Germany. Christian Schweiger (Durham university ) investigated perspectives for the formation of a leadership triangle between Britain, France and Germany in the EU-27 under Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel.
Following on from the discussion at the annual workshop, the GPSG will organise a panel on the 2009 German federal election campaign at the 2009 Annual Conference in Manchester. The GPSG will also participate in a joint specialist group conference on the internal dynamics of the EU-27 at Durham university in January 2009.
Politics Specialist Group – 3rd Annual Workshop
‘Modell Deutschland: Challenges and Choices’
This year’s workshop took place in a convivial atmosphere in Frankfurt/Oder, the lesser known German city of that name. Located directly on the border with Poland and only an hour from Berlin, the European University Viadrina offered the perfect backdrop for exploring the challenges and choices facing the German model of governance. Papers on Germany’s role in EU enlargement (Christian Schweiger) and German-Polish border cooperation and European security (Alexandra Schwell) were particularly fitting in this context. They were complemented by papers on German-US relations (Klaus Larres) and the Grand Coalition’s emerging foreign policy (Ruth Wittlinger). Analysis of public attitudes towards intervention and the use of force (Joerg Jacobs) rounded off a differentiated survey of Germany’s foreign relations, which was followed by a lively debate.
Recent developments in domestic politics offered an inside view of the evolving German model. Hartwig Pautz focused on the growing influence of think tanks in government policy-making, and Werner Reutter assessed the constitutional implications of the vote of confidence which led to last year’s federal election. Dorothee Hermanni questioned notions of German normalisation in the light of unresolved tensions between East and West German identities, whilst Claire Sutherland pursued the theme of national identity by looking at recent developments in citizenship law as a reflection of German self-understanding. By illuminating ‘Modell Deutschland’ from both inside and out, participants moved towards a more multi-facetted understanding of current trends in German politics.
Excellent weather and a good selection of pubs provided ample opportunity for pursuing the day’s discussions over a local beer. Joerg Jacobs, the conference organiser, offered superb hospitality throughout our stay, laying on memorable meals for all participants. One social highlight was the conference dinner, held in the Polish town of Slubice on the other side of the river Oder. A guided walk led us past border controls and across the bridge to a stylish restaurant offering delicious Polish cuisine, which provided a source of inspiration for an entertaining evening of debate and socialising into the wee small hours.
Following on from the workshop, Christian Schweiger has proposed a panel for next year’s PSA conference. There are also plans to publish the conference proceedings as a book, to be edited by Joerg Jacobs and Claire Sutherland. Next year’s workshop will be held in Durham, before returning to Germany in 2008. The exact date and a call for papers will be posted online.
The group’s friendly and egalitarian way of working has proved most productive, with several joint research projects and proposals resulting from its developing network. New members are always welcome! If you want to join, simply send an email to ruth.wittlinger'at'durham.ac.uk. Further information about the group is available on its newly designed homepage, which can be accessed from the PSA website. Please send comments, links or news of related activities to the webmaster at claire.sutherland'at'manchester.ac.uk for inclusion on the site.