David Cooper, Associate Professor and Director, Russian, East European and Eurasian Center (REEEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Chair)
Badredine Arfi, Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida
- Muslims and Secularism between History and Glocal Systems of Governance – At a time when democratic forms of governance have overwhelmingly been accepted as best suited to address the problems and challenges of world populations both within and beyond states, the legitimacy gap both domestically and globally of existing democratic procedures, norms and institutions requires us to take into account the conditions of what historically is emerging as a glocal “simultaneously global and local” system of world governance. Dr. Arfi argues that these conditions call for a new form of political legitimacy which, while acknowledging the many historical achievements of existing forms of democracy, must go beyond them to design new ways of achieving political legitimacy that befit the diversity existing in the world today. She will specifically examine how contemporary Muslims drawing on the historicity of Islam as a normative system and as practice can/might address the issue political secularism in a glocalized post-colonial world.
Roger Kanet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami, Professor Emeritus of Political Scienceat the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and former Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Director of International Programs and Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Russia and Global Governance – Since he came to the presidency Vladimir Putin and his advisors have emphasized the fact that they do not accept the hegemonic position of the United States in a unipolar international security, political and economic system. The Russians have work assiduously, and, largely successfully, to challenge that dominance and to contribute to building a multipolar system in which Russia plays a role equal to that of the United States and the European Union. For Russia, global order should be based on a multipolar system in which a Westphalian sense of sovereignty prevails; the rules for international economic intercourse cannot continue to preference the West; and legitimacy must be based on a system that empowers Russia and other emerging state actors. In other words, Russia continues to challenge the West-centric order that emerged after the collapse of the former USSR, as its actions of the past decade have increasingly made clear.
John Karam, Associate Professor of Brazilian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Beside Bandung: Brazil, the Summit of “South America and Arab Countries” (ASPA), and the Global South – Why did Brazil host the inaugural 2005 summit of South America-Arab Countries (ASPA), and a year later, retain its status as “observer” – and not member – of the 14th summit of non-aligned countries? This essay juxtaposes, on the one hand, the Brazilian state’s rapprochement toward the Arab world that culminated in ASPA and, on the other, its measured distance from official membership in the Non-Aligned Movement. Since the mid-twentieth century, Brazil strengthened economic and political exchanges with non-aligned states in the Arab world at the same time it eschewed formal adherence to non-alignment. In remaining beside – neither in nor against – Bandung and the many summits it subsequently inspired, Brazilian authorities learned the language of non-alignment that they employed for their own purposes with Arab countries. The seemingly paradoxical roles of Brazil in ASPA and non-alignment reveal the overlapping, and competing, agendas, in the Global South.
Antonio Sotomayor, Assistant Professor & Librarian of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Empire, Sport, and Religion in Puerto Rico and Cuba’s YMCA, 1898-1930s – This presentation will address the intersection of sport, religion, and imperialism through the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) as an extension of United States expansion into Puerto Rico and Cuba after the Spanish American War of 1898. The YMCA’s emphasis on “muscular Christianity” and sports made it attractive to some locals who welcomed this feature of U.S. Americanization. The story of the YMCA in Puerto Rico and Cuba shows the ways in which YMCA leaders sought to bring Protestant progress to a Catholic “oppressed” people, while many locals welcomed a progressive institution of modern sports. My argument blurs the line between resistance and acculturation and sees the early development of sport in Puerto Rico and Cuba as a process of negotiations over power, identity, and culture. These negotiations resulted in the mass adoption of American sports, yet the overall denial of Protestantism, to legitimize a hegemonic relation.