I currently work on my doctoral dissertation with the working title “In interest of a small state: making of ‘nationalised’ consensus in post-WWII Finland and Austria”. In 2006-2007 I was coordinating the network project “Regionalism, nationalism and democracy – elaborating interdisciplinary and comparative approaches for European studies and, in 2003-2006, a junior researcher in the EU-funded (5FP.) research project “A Framework for Socio-Economic Development in Europe? The Consensual Political Cultures of the Small Western European States in Comparative and Historical Perspective”. In the project, I was mainly engaged with comparison of Finland and Austria. The project was participated by six European universities.

1. Dissertation project : In interest of a small state: making of ‘nationalised’ consensus in post-WWII Finland and Austria

The cases of Finland and Austria are often referred to as political and socio-economic “success stories” of the post-1945 European history. In the recent decades, they have frequently been brought up – nationally but also internationally – as societies within which high degree of socio-economic well-being combines with overall societal security, stability and acknowledged role in the international community. In explaining the two post-1945 national success stories, the new “spirit” of domestic consensus has been the standard point of reference. The link between the post-1945 consensus and national success appears to be firmly anchored in the Austrian and Finnish national-collective self-understanding. The meta-narrative of consensus even serves as a retrospective explanation for the problems in the first decades of the two young republics since 1917/1918: the period lacked the constructive spirit of consensus marking the two later “second republics”.

The study aims to provide an analytically organised view on the conceptual anatomy and, moreover, to institutional underpinning of the Austrian and Finnish post-1945 “spirit of consensus”. The focus is on the emergent and, at the same time, formative phases in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The study approaches ’consensus’ as a broad conceptual-discursive construction but also as a set of institutional practices aiming at consensus-seeking among divergent interests. Here various administrative forums that were set up to negotiate the key policies gain in significance. In my study, the focus is on the economic policy and the national defence policy making. On field of economic policies, the focus is on Austrian Wirtschaftsdirektorium (1951-1953) and on various Finnish economic policy planning councils (1951-1954). On field of national defence policies, the organisation and articulation of the so called mental national defence (Geistige Landesverteidigung / henkinen maanpuolustus) in the early 1960’s come under closer scrutiny. The study is expected to be finished later in 2007.

2. Regionalism, nationalism and democracy – elaborating interdisciplinary and comparative approaches for European studies (2006 – early 2007)

Project description

The network project funded by the University of Helsinki Network for European Studies in 2006 – 2007 provided an arena for cross-disciplinary communication with respect to broad themes of regionalism, nationalism and democracy in comparative and inter-disciplinary perspectives.

The themes and approaches raised in the project title are of importance in reference to the recent calls for broader and more integrated perspectives in the European studies. At the same time, the more integrated approaches open increasingly interdisciplinary and comparative research angles that require the elaboration of novel analytic and conceptual tools. As many interesting research questions locate at the convergence points of disciplines, also the doctoral students have currently been encouraged to adopt research designs with interdisciplinary and comparative dimensions. This creates new and very practical need for the intensified cross-disciplinary communication and articulation of the interdisciplinary and comparative research strategies. The manifold repercussions caused by the relocation of boundaries on the level of very research practices, is one of the key questions that the project aims to address. Bringing together the already existing but horizontally, vertically and institutionally dispersed resources and research activities at the University of Helsinki, the project addresses the topical research themes in a manner that may contribute on many levels of research activities – not least among the doctoral students that the project aims to attract as participants of the organized discussion seminars. Background text for the project

Since the mid-1990’s the anticipated post-cold war transition has been profoundly shaped by ‘internationalising’ trends of integration and globalisation. The spatial and conceptual re-mapping of the political space has given rise to new and reconfigured roles for existing actors, institutions and identities. This has created possibilities for establishing new global, local, trans-national and non-spatial societies/communities that transcend the established boundaries of space and identity. New and shifting actor positions, institutions and identities have both shaped and been shaped by the transforming operational environments. New approaches have highlighted the multiple set of power relations that are embedded in both concepts and institutions that organize political space. Questions boiling down to these complex and multi-dimensional processes of change have currently become a central problem in many fields of disciplines and have been elaborated from various different angles. At the same time, the intensive re-conceptualisation has generated reflexivity and awareness of the ways in which disciplinary boundaries and scholarly concepts are capable for limiting, legitimating and de-legitimating knowledge.

Also the established comparative categories and the ‘traditional’ hierarchical orderings typical for the Cold War era studies have become increasingly questioned. The binary conceptualisations, like “Eastern” versus “Western” Europe, “industrialised/developed” versus “underdeveloped/third world”, “North” versus “South”, are being reconsidered. In the enlarged Europe, there exists an immediate need for the de-construction of the inherited Eastern – Western European dichotomies as well as for the elaboration of new frameworks that enable addressing these categories of analysis in commensurate terms. At the level of concrete research practices, however, one is quickly struck by the notion, how difficult the over-coming of these deep-rooted conceptualisations is. For instance, the very classic literature on comparative study of European ‘nation states’, the one from which the tradition still in practice heavily draws from, bases on a conception of specific ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ trajectories of societal and nation state development. In the enlarged Europe, the cold war East-West dichotomy is, however, transcended by the shifting notions like North, Central and South. Furthermore, ‘Europe’ and the European multiplicity of nationalisms, regionalisms and related institutional and identity political experiences, have to be put into a wider global comparative context. Only by means of taking into account the comparative aspects, crossing the intra-European as well as continental boundaries, can one plausibly ask about the distinctiveness of ‘Europe’ and European experiences of nationalism, regionalism and democracy.

However, even amidst the intensive discourses of change, the European political spaces still are deeply embedded in the nation state orders and respective societal, political and ideological institutions, identities and legacies. In this respect, the transformation/continuous existence of the very nation state is firmly anchored at the core of current discourses of change. As the modern liberal democratic institutions and civil /social rights primarily emanate from the nation state order, the replacement of institutions and identities bounded to nation states gives rise to profoundly important questions about the exercise of democracy in the new trans-national, sub-national, regional and global frames of reference. Globalisation and Europeanisation – often seen as the main challenges for national democracy from ‘above’ – have generated an enormously rich re-thinking regarding the preconditions of democratic practices and institutions reaching below and beyond the established national state framing. At the same time, the post-cold war period has also been characterised by global emergence of exclusionary, in some cases even violent forms of nationalism. On a less dramatic level, one may refer to the Dutch and French referenda over the EU constitution that, alike, highlight the need for careful contemplation of those forces working to encounter the processes of globalization and integration within the current European Union member states and beyond. The perceived ambiguities create a need for multiperspectival discussion about the transformation of the traditional western European nation state and rise of new nationalisms that stay in complex relation to promotion and resistance to the trends of regionalisation, europeanisation and globalisation.

Side by side with the future-orientated discourses of change and emerge of new research strategies, there exists an increased need for (re)-integration of historical dimension into systematic social scientific analyses. It has been highlighted by many that the comparative and interdisciplinary approaches in the reading of Europe and Europeaness also require a more varied understanding about the multi-layered historicity. The complex matrix of overlapping and intersecting, problem-based, interdisciplinary and comparative conversations and research endeavours are able to gain remarkably from the awareness about the rich variety and multiplicity of pasts. Understanding of the layered ways in which historicity is embedded in our thinking helps in problematising not only the images of pasts but of the present. In so doing, it also facilitates for launch of new conversations about alternative futures.

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