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Report on the Second Global International Studies Conference, Ljubljana 2008

WISC is a spice in the alphabet soup that is becoming more familiar to those scholars who attended either the First Global International Studies Conference in Istanbul in 2005 or the Second such conference in Ljubljana in July 2008. They were part of some 1000 participants from some 70 countries in the Second Conference.

Ljubljana (or Laibach to international historians) is a delightful Habsburg style town with a fairy tale castle on the hill and an old town hugging the banks of the river below. It also has a very well-equipped University where the conference was held. Moreover, a seemingly tireless organising team from the Faculty of Social Science led by Bojko Bučar and Zlatko Sabič (also President of the CEEISA) provided a welcoming secretariat. Led by John Groom, then Executive Secretary of WISC, Tom Volgy from ISA and Clare Dekker from ECPR between them provided much of the organisational backing, while the Programme Committee was led by Knud-Erik Jørgensen (University of Aarhus), who was joined by Arlene Tickner (Universidad de los Andes), Amitav Acharya (Nanyang Technological University) and Rafel Reuveny (University of Indiana). In Ljubljana both the President and the Foreign Minister of Slovenia, Danilo Türk and Dimitrij Rupel (both Professors), gave presentations. The Reception on the castle offered by the Mayor of the town Zoran Janković could be described as fairy. However, this was the public side of the conference. Elsewhere throughout three days of sessions, and often long into the night in convivial settings, the arguments on and around the conference theme of ‘what keeps us apart, what keeps us together’ continued.

By all accounts the participants viewed WISC 2008 to be a great success. However, it is still a long way from reaching its goal which is to fructify the global dimension of our field. On this occasion the Carnegie Corporation enabled a number of African scholars to attend but there was very little participation from South Asia. While there is a global participation that is difficult to match in other fora, nevertheless, the agenda and concerns are still largely those of the established centres of international studies, although interpreted in a broad light. We are thus still far from achieving the remit to reflect the academic traditions, concerns, methodologies and people of our field the world over. In 2011 we shall try again to get nearer that goal in the Third Global International Studies Conference.

A.J.R. Groom and Bojko Bučar