Knowledge Base

39th Annual ISA Convention - Minneapolis, MN: 1998

The Westphalian System in Global and Historical Perspective

March 17th - 21st, 1998
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Program Chair: Robert Denemark, University of Delaware

Call for Proposals

In 1998 we mark the 350th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia, long a touchstone of the study of international relations. It was 1648 that many scholars argue witnessed the birth of the modern international system. The universalist ideas and institutions of the feudal era were dealt a stunning blow. Sovereign control over a well‐defined territory, akin to individual ownership of property, emerged as the norm. Populations were to look to their sovereigns as the highest legitimate authority. The roots of a broad nationalism were secured. Sovereigns legitimated their right to make treaties and conduct independent foreign relations. Diplomacy was regularized. War became a method by which to pursue interests, and not necessarily a method by which to scour the world of evil. As a result, the foundations for systems of collective security and balance of power emerged. These newly sovereign states also benefited from their abilities to create and codify national financial systems, and to facilitate long‐distance trade. The contemporary nation‐state, the modern state system, and the ideational and the organizational underpinnings for most of what fits into the category of international studies may be said to trace its origins to Westphalia.

Our theme, "The Westphalian System in Global and Historical Perspective", reflects a desire to consider the broad and contentious legacy of Westphalia. To what extent, and in what way, was the Peace of Westphalia really a turning point? What might the study of this 350 year old settlement suggest about the methods we ought to use and the processes we ought to focus upon when attempting to apprehend change in the global system? How has the Westphalian system evolved over the past three‐and‐one‐half centuries? How much light does the Westphalian system still shed on contemporary global dynamics?

The Westphalian system may also be considered from a broader, and far more comparative set of geographical, temporal, and conceptual perspectives. How have sovereignty and the other institutions of the Westphalian system manifested themselves in various contexts? What role might global affairs have played in the actual creation and subsequent development of the Westphalian system itself? What can longer‐term historical perspectives on authority, institutional development, and world systems tell us about the meaning of Westphalia in global history? What concepts are embedded in the organization of the post‐Westphalian order?

These questions speak to issues at the origin of a variety of fields. We invite scholars from across the full range of disciplines, and especially from beyond the confines of North America and Western Europe, to join in this discussion. We look forward to a wide range of proposals for our 39th annual meeting.

Posted in: Conferences

The International Studies Association

Representing over 100 countries, ISA has more than 6,500 members worldwide and is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. Endeavoring to create communities of scholars dedicated to international studies, ISA is divided into 7 geographic subdivisions of ISA (Regions), 29 thematic groups (Sections) and 4 Caucuses which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and research with local colleagues and within specific subject areas.
Help   |   Thanks   |   Privacy Statement   |   Terms Of Use