Cooperating Across Global Regions: Societal Actors, Transnational Mobilization, and Regional Integration 1960s-2020

Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research

Duisburg, Germany, 8-9 June 2020

Call for Papers

Convener: Professor Wolfram Kaiser (University of Portsmouth) in cooperation with the Centre for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg-Essen)

Societal actors like political parties, trade unions, business organizations and non-traditional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) forge and maintain transnationally constituted informal networks and formalized organizational structures. Much has been said about how they cooperate at the regional level as in the context of the European Union (EU) or globally, where they interact with International Organizations (IOs). Instead, this exploratory workshop will focus on their cooperation at the trans-regional or trans-continental level, for example between Europe and Latin America.

Cooperation at this intermediate trans-regional level may have been, or may continue to be induced, by historical experiences with contemporary impact (e.g. Empire, political exile), cultural proximity or language commonalities. Alternatively, or in addition, such mobilization could have been, or could continue to be, geared towards fostering common ideological goals like social justice, or more concrete policy objectives in delineated policy areas like market liberalization or environmental protection. Cooperation among societal actors at the trans-regional level may also have been directed at supporting processes of de-colonization and national independence as in Africa during the 1960s, or regime transition and democratic stabilization as in Latin America during the 1980s.

Lastly, such cooperation has frequently also sought to initiate and support the formation of regional integration organizations (RIOs) in different global regions. Transnationally constituted societal actors have used RIOs to create, maintain and strengthen transnational identities. They have often also seen RIOs as suitable intermediate governance structures for promoting their political visions and policy objectives, or they have challenged these organizations as frameworks for implementing reforms criticized as neo-liberal for their allegedly negative consequences e.g. for employment conditions or the environment.

Against this background this workshop will take an interdisciplinary perspective on the origins, practices and implications of trans-regional cooperation among transnational societal actors. The workshop will adopt a globally comparative approach and include relations among transnational societal actors from Western Europe as well as e.g. Latin America, Africa, and South-East Asia. It will seek to mobilize research focussing on the origins of such cooperation from the 1960s up to the present day, taking as its starting point the consolidation of Western European integration in the late 1950s and the 1960s, de-colonization in the Global South in the same period and the formation of RIOs such as the Organization for African Unity (OAU, now AU) in 1963, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967 and Mercosur created in 1991 after the transition to democracy in Latin America in the 1980s. At the same time, the workshop also invites papers based on ongoing social science research to conceptualize and study empirically the role of societal actors in trans-regional cooperation in conjunction with the formation and consolidation of RIOs.

Relevant disciplines include, but are not limited to (contemporary) History, Area Studies, Political Science, Sociology. We especially welcome papers that contribute to answering one or more of the following research questions:

  1. Who has initiated, or initiates, trans-regional cooperation among societal actors, e.g. individual policy entrepreneurs, established national or transnational regional organizations, or RIOs that require societal interlocutors?
  2. What have been, or are, the original motivations for forging trans-regional links, e.g. access to material resources, exchange/transfer of political ideas, creating transnational solidarity, effecting regime transition, or building momentum for the creation of RIOs?
  3. How does cooperation take place? Is it more informal or formalized? How is it funded? Are the relations characterized by dependencies or are they among equals?
  4. What are the roles of trans-regional cooperation among societal actors for governance at different levels, i.e. do they strengthen policy debate and facilitate the transfer of political ideas and policy solutions? Do they feed into the politics of RIOs or of free trade agreements like between the EU and Mercosur, for example, and in what ways?

Please submit your proposal in one Word document with two elements:

  • an abstract of your paper of no more than 300 words with information on its focus, key arguments and empirical basis.
  • a short biographical note with information on your institutional affiliation and relevant ongoing research projects and/or publications.

Please submit proposals to Wolfram Kaiser ( by 6 February 2020.

All invited paper-givers are expected to submit an outline paper of 8-10pp with key arguments as well as a select bibliography (including esp. works in languages other than English) by 15 May 2020.

Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered for presenters within the limits of the applying regulations.