City: Halle (Saale), Germany
Organiser: Research Cluster "Society and Culture in Motion", DFG Priority Program 1448 "Adaptation and Creativity in Africa" and the Center of Excellence "Enlightenment – Religion – Knowledge"
Venue: University of Halle

National sovereignty today operates in changed ecology. The primary reason for this is the erosion of national borders by the flows of ideas, people, technologies and money across national boundaries which has accelerated since the late 1980’s, in what is usually referred to as the period of globalization. In addition, as national economies have become increasingly fictions due to the realities of global finance, nation-states and political elites have had to invent other justifications for their existence and this accounts for the global shift to right-wing ideologies of soil, blood and ethnos. Finally, as the tension between universal human rights and the plight of refugees and other undocumented aliens increases, especially in Europe, we see the emergence of a deep divide about the meaning of national sovereignty, and a gap between ethnonational views and those of a more liberal variety, which stress inclusion, diversity and hospitality. More than three centuries after the Treaty of Westphalia, Europe (and the world) are in dire need of a new narrative of sovereignty.

Arjun Appadurai is the Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, where he is also Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge. During 2016-17, he is Visiting Professor at The Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt University (Berlin).