Collegium Spring Conference: Many Hands of the State (May 15-17)

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
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Thursday, May 15 - Saturday, May 17
Regenstein Library, Room 122
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
This three-day conference is an initiative of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society project, The State as History and Theory.
The conference is free and open to the public. All are welcome!
Hosted by University of Chicago Professors Elisabeth Clemens (Department of Sociology), Bernard Harcourt (Department of Political Science and Law School), James Sparrow (Department of History), and Stephan Sawyer (History Department, The American University of Paris; 2013-2014 Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellow), Ann Orloff (Northwestern University, Sociology and Political Science) and Kimberly Morgan (George Washington University Political Science and International Affairs).
The study of states over the past three or four decades calls forth a number of paradoxes.  First, the drive to focus analyses on the state as an analytic category developed most powerfully within US academia, despite the widespread sense of many, correctly or not, that the US lacked a powerful state, at least with respect to its welfare functions, and has a governing apparatus that operates in fundamentally different ways than what the literature on states – above all in in Europe -- suggested.  Thinking about the contrasts between the US and other states have helped scholars to develop a vibrant field of American Political Development while unsettling early conceptualizations of states. A second paradox is that intensifying interest in studying states has run parallel to the intensifying forces of globalization.  The more states seem to be challenged, undermined or entangled by global economic, social, cultural, and political forces, the more it seems that scholars reach for the term “state” in their analyses, even as they increasingly theorize states within the frameworks of empire and global relationships.  The third paradox lies in the fact that, after a period of intense intellectual debate about the state, its autonomy (or lack thereof), and capabilities, theoretical analyses of the state waned at the same time that empirical studies of states increased and diversified.  Yet, the term “state” is still pervasive in academic research and has generated enormously fruitful scholarly agendas.
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