The Comparative Regionalism Network organised two very successful panels at the UACES Conference in Passau, 3-5 September 2012. The topics discussed were wide-ranging, and included EU and ASEAN actorness, the politicization of trans-Tasmanian integration, awkward states in regional integration, Eurasian regionalism and the importance of regional powers in the success and failure of regional projects.
The conference itself was intellectually stimulating and an excellent opportunity to meet other scholars working on various aspects of European integration. Noteworthy over the last couple of years has been the inclusion of several panels on the EU and China, reflecting the growing importance of and interest on Asia-Europe relations.
Also worth mentioning is the JCMS lecture Fifty Years of JCMS: Charting the Evolution of Research on European Integration with interventions from Uwe Kitzinger, William Paterson, Simon Bulmer, Iain Begg, Drew Scott, Dan Wincott and John Peterson. Among other things, the founder of JCMS and its first editor, Uwe Kitzinger, emphasised the passion that drove many early supporters and analysts of European integration during the 1940s and 1950s: the desire to construct a peaceful and prosperous continent, removing the spectre of intra-European warfare from the scene. Over the decades, the study of European integration has become more and more professionalised and far too often, this passion has been pushed to the margins. However, as the events following the break-up of Yugoslavia have highlighted, the danger of military conflict within Europe is never really far away.
Another plenary session on Studying Europe in Germany and the UK: Comparing Experiences noted that the study of European integration has been increasingly mainstreamed into disciplines such as Politics and International Relations, rather than being the independent purview of ‘European Studies’. This has been a blessing particularly for scholars interested in comparative regionalism. Indeed, the JCMS lecture emphasised the need to publish more comparative research within the context of the journal.
UW, September 2012