More often than not national interests and political ideologies have compromised the integrity of the idealized ‘republic of letters’, still, academic culture continues to be perceived as an international, even transnational sphere. It, therefore, presents a unique space for the study of international relations at the intersection of culture, politics and diplomacy. The conference poses two guiding questions: In what ways has academic culture provided a framework for international politics and/or how and when did universities or scholars become themselves diplomatic agents?
The cultural and political weight of universities can be seen when for example a campus serves as the backdrop for international policy announcements such as George Marshall’s first presentation of his European Recovery Program at Harvard commencement in 1947. While European universities in general and possibly the German system in particular had long been admired in America, the 20th century saw a dramatic shift almost to the extent of a downright inversion of the positions. Thus, the transatlantic perspective in particular, affords a plethora of vantage points to tackle the overarching questions. Ever since the 19th century academic exchange programs for professors and students alike, as well as international conferences and co-operations have established personal and professional networks which could serve as channels for political communication on a sub-governmental level. Emigration of scholars from Europe to the United States thoroughly internationalized American campuses, thus creating a new sphere of action and negotiation. Higher education was considered a central pillar in American cultural-diplomacy initiatives sparked by the Cold War. Even before, curricula had reflected global constellations; hence while American Studies flourished in Germany after 1945, the roots of German Studies at American universities lay in pre-World War I efforts to strengthen overseas German ethnic identity in order to influence the general political mood in the US.
Papers may engage the topic form an American, a European or a comparative perspective though preference will be given to those adopting a transatlantic approach. Possible themes include but are not limited to:
- Academic internationalism vs. national politics
- Universities (or members of universities) as agents in international politics
- Academic exchange as “ersatz-“diplomacy in times of crisis
- Spaces for discourse on international politics within the university context
- The university campus as political stage in international relations
- The public/popular presentation and perception of academia as an international sphere
- Studying foreign countries (curricula, institutions, agendas, key actors)
- Cultural diplomacy on campus and in lecture halls
- Academia as a field for international competition and co-operation
As part of the research focus “Transatlantic Cultures”, the conference will take place at the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) of the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich. Proposals (500-750 words) accompanied by a short CV may be sent to Charlotte Lerg (firstname.lastname@example.org) the deadline being Nov. 11, 2011. Notification of participation will be given before the end of the year.