The BISA Working Group on International Mediterranean Studies was established in May 2005, with the objective of providing an institutionalized platform for BISA members (including post-graduate members in the final stages of their PhD thesis) working on theoretical and empirical issues related to the Mediterranean to exchange views and work on common projects.
Since its inception, the WG has organized a number of activities including:
- A Workshop on The Status of International Mediterranean Studies, held at the European Research Institute (ERI), University of Birmingham on October 6, 2005. The workshop marked the tenth anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) and the Year of the Mediterranean. The papers presented as well as the workshop report are available at:
Report on the Workshop on the Status of International Mediterranean Studies
- Panel at BISA 2005, University of St. Andrews. The working group’s panel was entitled ‘Normative power Europe and the Mediterranean: insights from theories and empirical evidence’. Papers presented assessed the validity of ‘normative power Europe’ in the context of contemporary IR theories. One paper presented by Federica Bicchi offered a skeptical view on the distinctiveness of European foreign policy in regard to normative issues. It suggested that the EU acts more as a ‘civilising power’ in the Mediterranean, rather than a normative one. Michelle Pace’s paper contributed to the debate by emphasizing the construction of the EU’s normative power in particular in conflict situations in the Mediterranean. The ensuing debate, which was triggered by the discussant Thomas Diez, focused on specific aspects of ‘normative power Europe.’ Participants discussed examples of norms promotion, as well as the impact of EU practices on Mediterranean societies. The conclusions drawn from this debate were also related to the theoretical issues raised in the papers.
- The WG was represented at a meeting on Researching the Mediterranean (organized by the British Council in Spain, in collaboration with Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) which brought together a group of 40-50 selected UK & Spanish researchers working on the Mediterranean and the Middle East to survey the existing landscape and consider priorities for the future research agenda. This meeting was held in Barcelona on 10-11 March 2006.
- BISA sponsored the WG’s panel at the ISA conference in San Diego, March 2006. Ulla Holm presented her research on the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy towards the Mediterranean and elaborated on the EU’s balancing act between exporting liberal values and securitization processes of these values. Michelle Pace emphasized how normative power is used as a conflict resolution devise and the tensions inherent in continuous theorizing on the EU’s normative power which omits the ways in which the EU uses normative power to achieve certain goals. Emanuel Adler, who acted as discussant on the panel, raised further interesting points for debate. He unpacked the concept of ‘power’ and distinguished between those instances when power is applied directly and others when it is applied indirectly. He argued that EU normative power theorizing has to do with security communities. From the participants who attended the panel, Ian Manners emphasized the need to distinguish between normative and civilian power EU. Others raised the question of how values differ from norms.
Forthcoming WG Events:
• Workshop on Europe and North Africa: Theoretical Research Challenges, University of Liverpool, 22 May 2006. Sponsored by: UACES (University Association of Contemporary European Studies), BISA WG on International Mediterranean Studies and EWC (Europe in the World Centre, University of Liverpool). For full programme and papers visit:
• WG panel at BRIT, 2006
A BISA WG panel has been organized at the forthcoming BRIT VIII conference on “Neighbours, Citizens and Borders. The making of Geo-Political Relations and Communities” to be held between 21–25 September 2006 in Lublin/Lviv. Panelists include Pertti Joennimi, Ulla Holm and Michelle Pace.
• WG panel at BISA, 2006
Together with Christopher Bickerton (Oxford), Michelle Pace will be putting forward a WG panel proposal on Alternatives to Enlargement: the ENP in the Mediterranean.
Contact information for the BISA Working Group on International Mediterranean Studies:
European Research Institute
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT