[MGSA-L] Call for Proposals: “The Politics and Discourse of Fifth Columns in Eurasia”

Harris Mylonas mylonas at gwu.edu
Sat Jun 2 15:52:55 PDT 2018

*Call for Proposals*

Workshop on “The Politics and Discourse of Fifth Columns in Eurasia”

The Workshop is convened by Scott Radnitz
<http://faculty.washington.edu/srad/> (University of Washington) and Harris
Mylonas <https://harrismylonas.com/> (George Washington University)
and will be held on March 1, 2019, at the University of Washington,
Seattle. The workshop will bring together a small interdisciplinary group
of social scientists to exchange ideas, brainstorm, and provide
constructive criticism of each other’s work.  See below for a brief

We seek applications from junior social scientists (Ph.D. candidates near
completion or recent graduates) whose work: (a) demonstrates substantial
theoretical innovation grounded in empirical research; (b) has politics
relating to claims of fifth columns as a central focus (or “dependent
variable”); (c) want to publish the work they present in an
anticipated edited volume or special issue of a journal.

Interested researchers should submit a CV and a one-page description of the
research project idea they would like to present at the workshop. Submit
the materials here <https://goo.gl/forms/64GZpWwPx7E4SBnZ2> by August 1,
2018. The organizers may request writing samples of interested candidates.
Applicants will be notified of decisions by September 1. UW’s Simpson
Center for the Humanities, the main sponsor of this workshop, in
collaboration with GWU, will cover all travel and accommodation expenses
for the selected participants.


*The Politics and Discourse of Fifth Columns in Eurasia*

Scott Radnitz (University of Washington) & Harris Mylonas (George
Washington University)

We define fifth columns as distrusted domestic groups suspected of acting
nefariously against the "national interest," in cooperation with external
rivals of the state. Historical episodes involving purported fifth columns
stemmed from state formation and the collapse of empires. The rise of
nationalism and incomplete assimilation within a consolidating territory
gave rise to the concept of “minorities”. In some cases, the alienation of
insecure minorities accused of subversive activity could have a
self-fulfilling effect by pushing them into the arms of an external
adversary for protection.

The term "fifth column," though originating in the ideological context of
the Spanish Civil War, has been used most often to describe perceived
ethnic sympathizers of external enemies, but claims of fifth columns can
also emerge as a byproduct of geopolitical rivalries. Most recently, far
right parties in Europe have depicted immigrants and refugees from Muslim
majority countries as fifth columns against Christian civilization, and
Trump Administration officials have made similar insinuations about
American Muslims.

We focus the workshop on Eurasia—for these purposes, the area stretching
from the Mediterranean Sea to Russia, and including Eastern Europe, the
Balkans, and the Middle East, though several papers may address other
cases. These regions saw the collapse of empires and the emergence of
nation-states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, they are
increasingly characterized by populism, authoritarianism, ethnic
nationalism, scapegoating of minorities and political dissidents, and
intermittent geopolitical tensions. Seeing these phenomena through the lens
of fifth columns and applying a historical and comparative perspective will
contribute to ongoing debates about political developments in the region,
while advancing our theoretical understanding of the conditions under which
fifth column allegations appear, endure, and wane.
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