6th European Workshops in International Studies - Anticipatory Global Governance: International Organisations and Political Futures

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Scholarship on international organisations (IOs) has grown and diversified in recent decades. Yet most IO studies take a retrospective analytical perspective. For example, principal-agent
accounts provide detailed insights into the conditions under which IO bureaucrats escaped state control to pursue their own agendas. Constructivist accounts show how IO bureaucrats
recast the belief systems of state actors, changing the preferences of the latter and promoting new governance norms. While such contributions illuminate how IOs’ past activities
produced certain political presents, there is an urgent need for more forward-looking research.

To address this issue, this workshop develops and empirically explores the concept of ‘anticipatory global governance’ in the context of IO operations. In doing so, it draws on two
established research traditions. First, constructivist and performative perspectives in a number of fields of study (including political science, organisational sociology and science &
technology studies) assume that no future is inevitable or ‘natural’. Political futures are created and continuously enacted through both human and non-human agents, including the
activities of IO staff and their governance technologies. Second, the rapidly expanding global governance literature on quantification, specifically on indicators and benchmarks as
governance tools, provides a starting point for a more future-oriented analysis of IO operations. In this sense, IOs directly partake in negotiations over political futures by crafting
a range of instruments to make the future knowable and, thus, amenable to purposive interventions.

The workshop builds on these traditions by clarifying how anticipatory global governance works and what roles IOs assume in it. Specifically, we wish to engage three broader sets of

What are the institutional functions of anticipatory global governance by IOs?

  • Why do IOs develop certain anticipatory practices and utilise certain instruments (agenda-setting, problematisation, justification, legitimation, etc.)?
  • To what extent are these practices and instruments responses to internal imperatives or external pressures?

What are the organisational dynamics of anticipatory global governance by IOs?

  • How do IOs make the future (or futures) knowable and governable? Which futures are deemed unknowable and ungovernable, and why?
  • How do specific practices and instruments create empirical evidence about or imaginations of potential futures?

What are the political effects of anticipatory global governance by IOs?

  • How does anticipatory global governance shift political discourses, as well as affect domestic and transnational policymaking?
  • To what extent does anticipatory governance entail shifts in power relations and authority?

Authors should outline how their paper addresses (some of) these questions. They can examine various IOs, diverse transnational issue areas and various types of instruments, including estimates, simulations, scenarios (‘war games’), big data and algorithms. For purposes of comparability, however, they should focus on intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), not non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We are especially interested in contributions that investigate lesser-known IOs and thus extend beyond the ‘usual suspects’.

The workshop is intended to yield a special issue in a suitable peer-reviewed journal. Participants should therefore be willing to contribute their paper to such a submission.

Abstracts of no more than 200 words can be submitted by 13 January 2019. For general information, including the link to the online abstract submission system, see http://www.eisa-net.org/eisa-net.org/sitecore/content/be-bruga/eisa/events/ewis.html