Call for papers: “Unsuccessful integration? Histories of failure from the Nordic region and beyond”

Workshop “Unsuccessful integration? Histories of failure from the Nordic region and beyond”, Clare Hall, Cambridge, March 21–22, 2024.

“Unsuccessful integration? Histories of failure from the Nordic region and beyond”, Clare Hall, Cambridge, March 21–22, 2024

Deadline for abstracts: January 15, 2024

We live, today, largely in a world of projects. As recent scholarship has suggested, the project as such has come to embody the quintessence of our contemporary world as it has developed from the 1970s, described inter alia as that of neoliberalism, of post-industrial capitalism or of liquid modernity. But we also live in a world of failed projects, which urges historians to embark on empirical studies of ultimately ill-fated, large-scale projects in order to untangle the historical challenges associated with their management. This need is especially urgent for writers of the history of transnational integration, not least in macro-regions such as Europe or, on a smaller scale, the Nordic region, whose promotors boast about being proverbial world champions in the field of integration. Appraising the histories of failure may bring crucial understanding to the limits and possibilities of integration; yet they are often forgotten, being obscured by success narratives disseminated by presently active stakeholders, or by historians focusing on the tales of the victors.

This workshop will counter such tendencies in the historical research on transnational integration by welcoming and discussing new research on failed projects of regional integration in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe. Within the framework of this workshop, we focus mainly on two types of failures, distinguished by how they have informed and impacted their historical contexts. The first of these are destructive failures, which have functioned or been perceived of as warning examples of transnational integration, indicating paths undesirable to take. Such failures may become obstacles for cooperation or integration by continuing to haunt plans and ambitions, both in the public sphere debates and in the planning processes of experts. The second category of failures are here dubbed productive failures, i.e. points of departure for compensatory measures, which have become drivers for other, different initiatives, of which there have been numerous examples in the history of Nordic and transnational integration. Both these categories provide us with glimpses of the future visions of the past, readable not least in the massive amount of work they produced. After all, failures are, just as much as successes, outcomes of intense interactions, and of an intensive knowledge production.

In this workshop, we propose to look beyond party politics and diplomatic history to lay bare valuable knowledge regarding the “hidden integration” of the transnational spaces, focusing on economic projects broadly conceived, from the infrastructures of the network industries to cross-border business ventures of media and entertainment.

Envisaging a wide contemporary historical focus, we welcome paper proposals on failed projects of cross-border economic integration in Europe after the Second World War. To apply for the workshop, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words to by 15 January 2024. Participants will then be asked to submit full papers for discussions to be held on site at least one week before the workshop. All papers will have an individual commentator. Depending on synergies and overlaps to be identified at the workshop, submitted papers might be developed into articles that will feature in an anthology or a special issue of a respected journal.

The workshop will take place at Clare Hall, Cambridge, on 21–22 March 2024. Participants will enjoy two free lunches as well as a conference dinner, and travel expenses will be covered. There might also be possibilities to cover college accommodation costs for some participants, at which point early career researchers will be prioritised. Should you have any further questions please email the organisers Martin Johansson ( or Andreas Mørkved (