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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

Traveling Norms and the Politics of Contention

Conference, October 24–26, 2013


Prof. Dr. David Chiavacci (Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies)
Prof. Dr. Benedikt Korf (Department of Geography)
Prof. Dr. Fabian Schäfer (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Prof. Dr. Andrea Büchler (Institute of Law)
Prof. Dr. Bettina Dennerlein (Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies)
Prof. Dr. Katharina Michaelowa (Department of Political Science)
Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)
Dr. Ralph Weber (URPP Asia and Europe)


  • Thursday, October 24: Room KO2 F-152, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8001 Zurich
  • Friday, October 25: Room KOL G-217, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich
  • Saturday, October 26: Room KO2 F-152, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8001 Zurich


The URPP Asia and Europe’s Research Field 3 Norms and Social Order(s), which is responsible for the organization of this year’s annual conference, studies the frameworks of normative beliefs and ordering systems that are established on various levels supportive of the exchange of ideas, goods, persons and global interdependence. Specific subjects to be addressed include questions of economic and political interdependencies, the transnationalization of law, the interaction of individuals, local communities, national, and international organizations, as well as global discourses on statehood and development.

Within this theoretical framework, this year’s conference will look into the actors, mechanisms and processes through which different norms and ideas (of citizenship, equality, human rights, etc.) are negotiated in spaces of contentious politics, and how norms and ideas travel from and to different places and contexts, what happens to them when they travel, and how they gain legitimacy and credibility in specific settings (or not). The conference will bring together scholars working on three empirical spaces of contentious politics: the Arab spring, the anti-nuclear movement and protests against special economic zones, with a particular focus on human rights and their circulation, media mechanisms for the diffusion of ideas and the power struggles in different spheres (political, legal, social) to make specific norms legitimate.

The aim of this international conference is to strengthen and expand international cooperation with scholars and global institutions working on similar subjects. Moreover, it will provide URPP Asia and Europe’s doctoral candidates with the opportunity to present their research to an audience of renowned international scholars within the framework of two “young scholar’s panels.” The conference will be comprised of one keynote, the screening of the film “The Green Wave” with subsequent discussion, five panels with distinguished speakers from all over the world and two young scholar’s panels (with 2 doctoral candidate’s presentations per panel).


Thursday, October 24, 2013
Room KO2 F-152, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich
15:00–15:30   Welcome Address
Andreas Fischer (University President, University of Zurich)
Wolfgang Behr (Academic Director URPP, University of Zurich)
David Chiavacci (Conference Organizer, University of Zurich)
Benedikt Korf (Conference Organizer, University of Zurich)
15:30–16:00     Coffee Break
16:00–17:30     Panel 1: Political Protest – History of Concepts: Protest, Contention, and Contestation
Chair: Ralph Weber (University of Zurich)
  • Urs Marti (University of Zurich)
    Government, Civil Society and Economic Power
  • Michael Freeden (University of Nottingham, Oxford University)
    Is Contention the New Default Position of the Political?
  • J. Devika (Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvanathapuram)
    Breaking the Conceptual Freeze: Thoughts on Contestation and Protest in India
17:30–19:00     Buffet Reception
19:00–21:30     Film and Discussion: Iran and the Green Revolution
Katajun Amirpur (University of Hamburg)
Ali Samadi Ahadi (Filmmaker)


Friday, October 25, 2013
Room KOL G-217, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich
09:00–10:00     Keynote: Global Protest
Paul Routledge (University of Leeds)
Contentious Norms for the 21st Century: Sovereignty and the Politics of Occupations
10:00–10:30     Coffee Break
10:30–12:00     Panel 2: Anti-Nuclear Movements in International Comparison
Chair: Katharina Michaelowa (University of Zurich)
  • Daniel Aldrich (Purdue University)
    The Critical Role of Political Frameworks: Differences in Post 3/11 Outcomes across Japan and the West
  • M.V. Ramana (Princeton University)
    The Impact of Fukushima and Chernobyl on India’s Anti-Nuclear Movements
  • Christopher Rootes (University of Kent)
    Energy Policy, the Environmental Movement and Protest in the UK after Fukushima
12:00–13:45     Lunch Break
13:45–14:30     Intermezzo: Young Scholar’s Panel 1
  • Tobias Weiss (PhD candidate URPP, University of Zurich)
    Recapturing Journalistic Professionalism? Media and Anti-Nuclear Protest in Japan
  • Eliza Isabaeva (PhD candidate URPP, University of Zurich) Becoming New Citizens and Making State in Kyrgyzstan
14:30–15:00     Coffee Break
15:00–17:30     Panel 3: Protesting the Land Grab in South Asia: Special Economic Zones as Spaces of Exception and Norm Production
Chair: Benedikt Korf (University of Zurich) and Shalini Randeria (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)
  • Neloufer de Mel (University of Colombo)
    Borders and Brokers: Garment Factories in Post-War Sri Lanka
  • Jamie Cross (University of Edinburgh)
    International Labour Rights and the Neoliberal Exception in India’s SEZs
Coffee Break
  • Michael Levien (University of California, Berkeley)
    Regimes of Dispossession and the Politics of India’s Special Economic Zones
  • Loraine Kennedy (CEIAS, EHESS)
    The Politics of India’s Special Economic Zones from a Comparative Subnational Perspective
19:00–21:00     Dinner Reception (by invitation)


Saturday, October 26, 2013
Room KO2 F-152, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich
9:00–10:30     Panel 4: Re-Negotiating Citizenship in the Arab World
Chair: Bettina Dennerlein (University of Zurich)
  • Zakia Salime (Rutgers University, New Brunswick)
    Challenges and Opportunities of New Feminism in North Africa
  • Sherene Seikaly (American University in Cairo)
    A Revolt of the Poor: the Political Meaning of the People
  • Roa’a Gharaibeh (University of Bordeaux)
    “No Honor in Crime” and “Lebanese Laique Pride”: New Voices Claiming Citizenship in Jordan and Lebanon
10:30–11:00     Coffee Break
11:00–11:45     Intermezzo: Young Scholar’s Panel 2
  • Motaz Alnaouq (PhD candidate URPP, University of Zurich)
    The Palestinian Basic Law and the Death Penalty
  • Ulrich Brandenburg (PhD candidate URPP, University of Zurich)
    Japan’s Challenge to Western Supremacy in the First Half of the 20th Century
11:45–13:30     Lunch Break
13:30–15:00     Panel 5: Actors, Mechanisms, and Processes of Traveling Norms: The Case of Constitutions and Human Rights
Chair: Andrea Büchler (University of Zurich)
  • Matthias Mahlmann (URPP, University of Zurich)
    Context and Universality of Human Rights
  • Jaivir Singh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
    Generating Economies of Sentiment: Exploring Law’s Engagement
  • Gianluca Parolin (American University in Cairo)
    Drafting Human Rights Provisions in Egypt (and Beyond)
15:00     End of Conference

Weiterführende Informationen

Report in the “Asia & Europe Bulletin” 3/2014

Interview in the “Asia & Europe Bulletin” 2/2013

The Green Wave

Film and Discussion

Thursday, October 24, 19:00–21:30
Room KO2 F-152, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8001 Zurich

After the screening of “The Green Wave,” Prof. Dr. Katajun Amirpur (University of Hamburg) and Ali Samadi Ahadi (filmmaker) will talk about the film more ...

Financial Support

The conference is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Stiftung Mercator Schweiz and the Hochschulstiftung der Universität Zürich.