CFP: EWIS Workshop on “How Do Symbols Order?”

The semiotic ordering of social space and the politics of imagination

5th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS),

Groningen, June 6-9, 2018

Oliver Kessler (University of Erfurt) & Timo Walter (University of Erfurt)

Please submit your abstracts via the online submission system by JANUARY 10, 2018.

For more information or any queries please contact:


In recent years, (constructivist) IR has seen interest shift from a concern with the constitution of discursive and symbolic orders towards close study of actors’ practices, in and through which these orders are instantiated. This shift has delivered numerous new insights – most significantly, it has brought increased attention and sensitivity to the messiness and heterogeneity of the social objects – such as states, markets, or organizations – constitutive of the „International“.

While such micro-level research has made great progress in analysing the use of symbols and discourses in specific sites and practices, this focus on agency has come at a cost. Specifically, practice-oriented research has encountered difficulties in tracing the performativity and the ordering effects of such symbolic systems across often heterogeneous sites of practice. As a result, the role of symbols and discourse for macrostructuring social fields, and in formating topographies of social interdiscursively has remained, for the most part, a black box.

In this workshop, we therefore seek to explore how practice-oriented research can be linked up with research interested more generally in the politics of imagination and symbolic ordering of the social. We are interested in particular in contributions that address the methodological and theoretical problem – also from the angle of particular empirical contributions and cases – of how to capture the implicit macrostructuring of practice(s) across different sites. Among other things, this could involve, for instance, i) explorations of the interaction of particular practices with their wider social-symbolic context(s); ii) insights into how to capture implicit presuppositions of particular practices or practice orders; iii) or how to methodologically bridge the gap between the in-situ analysis of indexical meaning and larger symbolic orders through discourse genealogies, conceptual history, field theoretical or insights drawn from other semiotic, anthropological, sociological or social psychological traditions.

This exploratory workshop thus seeks two achieve two things:

First, to explore what existing methodological strategies within and beyond IR can tell us about the different dimensions of the problem.

Secondly, lay the foundations for a methodological framework for studying the translation of symbolic into social order across multi-sited social fields.


  1. One author can only submit 1 abstract.
  2. Abstracts are to be submitted into  – WS N “How Do Symbols Order?”
  3. The presentation type should be confirmed during the submission:
    • Paper presentation
  4. Abstracts could be amended in the online submission system until the submission deadline of January 10, 2018.
  5. All presenting authors will receive an acceptance/rejection notification via e-mail by February 20, 2018.
  6. All presenting authors are obliged to register by March 16, 2018.

For more information about the  submission process please consult the EWIS Workshops Homepage