26th International Conference of Europeanists in Madrid

Sovereignty is at the crux of current developments in Europe and at the center of political debate—of which the 2016 referendum on Brexit is just one example. The claim to regain national sovereignty vis-a-vis EU policy-making is common to populist movements throughout Europe today, and it currently dominates the rhetoric of the national governments of Hungary and Poland as well. Anxieties about sovereignty are also key to understanding the demands put forward by regional entities such as Scotland, Catalonia, and Lombardy.

These fights for new forms of sovereignty – or the restoration of old ones – are surprising, even bewildering, to those who imagined that the process of European integration would render the concept of sovereignty obsolete. Yet recent developments clearly show that sovereignty again has become a crucial concept in political, social and cultural fields. It is increasingly invoked not only by regions, nations, and Europe itself, but also by minority populations, marginalized groups, and even individuals as the reason justifying their claims of self-governance, emancipation, or political empowerment.

Recent developments and the material challenges that complicate them – globalization, the digital revolution, mobility – call upon us to reflect on the motives, polities, concepts, and rhetorics of sovereignty more profoundly and, given the complexity of the challenges, to seek fresh approaches that transcend disciplinary boundaries. “Sovereignties in Contention in Europe: Nations, Regions and Citizens" aims to provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between different models for the study of sovereignty: from a governmental and institutional perspective to looking at bottom-up processes, from socio-economic and legal aspects to questions of identity, nationhood, and historical memory.