On the Verges of the State

The Finnish Political Science Association holds its 40th annual conference at the University of Lapland (Rovaniemi) on March 27-28, 2008. The theme of the conference is "On the Verges of the State".

The state has been traditionally defined as a spatial community that has a monopoly of violence within its own territory. Such definitions have formed our understanding of why strict exclusive borders separate states from each other and why they sometimes even end up in serious conflicts. It has also been customary to think that states have a stronger responsibility than any other actor to take care of their "own territory". Unlike for example private companies, they cannot transfer their activities to the other side of the globe in pursuit of more favourable conditions.

Students of politics, irrespective of their background or scholarly orientation, have asked whether we have arrived at the verges of this conceptualisation of the state at the beginning of the 21st century. Interdependent world economy and political integration have diminished the importance of nation-states. At the same time, the states’ operational logic has been increasingly tied to the logic of economic competition. Critics have asked whether the state can any longer bear its territorial responsibilities, and if it cannot, can anyone? This question is particularly acute on the margins and peripheries of the present nation-states - where the state, however, may never have become as sovereign a monopoly of power as it became in the heartlands of Europe.

The keynote speakers of the conference Michel Wieviorka (Paris), Peter A. Kraus (Helsinki), Stuart Elden (Durham) and Ann Denis (Ottawa) address the issues of globalisation, European identity, North and South, terrain and territory, through various social scientific research traditions. Common to them all is the endeavour to study politics through both far-reaching conceptual transformations and acute empirical phenomena.

The conference is organized in co-operation with the annual conference of the Westermarck Society (the Finnish Sociological Association) on March 28-29, 2008. In addition to the plenary sessions, the political science conference includes 17 workshops, part of which are held together with the sociology conference.

Welcome to the 40th annual conference of the Finnish Political Science Association at the University of Lapland!

Petri Koikkalainen
Chair of the organizing committee

Antti Pakkanen
Conference secretary

University of Lapland / political science and international relations