UACES Chair’s Message — January 2023

Simon Usherwood |

UACES Chair, Prof Simon Usherwood

Dear Colleagues,

January is, of course, the worst month to start a year, but before you know it we’ll be back to brightening evenings and talk of exam boards, so we can all look forward to those.

Only the corniest of people would write a message about new year being a time of new beginnings, so I’m extremely happy to tell you about UACES’ new journal, Contemporary European Politics. Working with our excellent colleagues at Wiley, the journal is intended to offer a new space for discussions on EU and European politics, especially drawing in perspectives from across the social sciences and from around the world. Our inaugural editors – Chris Huggins, Natasza Stycznska, and Dr Bruno Theodoro Luciano – reflect the ambition of the journal to reach out to colleagues that haven’t been part of the debate, notably early career researchers. With a mix of full- and short-length research articles, commentaries and opinions we hope that CEP will be an enriching space for discussion and dialogue, reflecting UACES’ ambitions and values. I know that the editors are all very keen to set the journal off on the right foot, so please do talk with them about how you can be part of that.

If we start with something new, then we follow with something (a little bit) older. Sunday 22 January is the deadline for proposals for our 53rd Annual Conference in Belfast this coming September. We’ve already had a great response to our new approach of themed tracks, as well as lots of calls for papers for panels circulating via our JISCMail list. There’s still time to come forward with your own ideas: our open track is just as it says, open, and we are also very happy to consider sessions that aren’t the usual format. You’ll be hearing more about things as the academic programme is confirmed, but I know we already have several excellent plenaries in place. The numerous delights of Belfast itself are something that I know from personal experience will make a wonderful impression on you and I look forward to seeing lots of you at the conference.

You’re now wondering if I’ve gone off the whole ‘new year, new thing’ theme, but I can tell you now that I am not. Tuesday 31 January is the deadline for nominations for our vacant officer and committee member positions. This year we have the bumper crop of appointing a new Secretary, a new Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, and two Committee Members. All of these roles are really important to UACES’ work and I’d strongly encourage you to consider standing if you have not already done so. While the workload is not so big as to stop you from doing other things, each role represents an opportunity for us to benefit from your insights and ideas and for you to shape the Association. I’m always very happy to discuss what’s involved, and both Dr Kathryn Simpson (Secretary) and Prof Roberta Guerrina (EDI) can tell you much more about what their roles entail too, so please feel very free to buttonhole us or drop us a line.

Of course, it’s not just the committee that changes and evolves over time. I’m very happy to welcome Dr Simona Guerra and Dr Dario Čepo as the new JCMS book editors and to thank Prof Gaby Umbach and Prof Ruby Gropas for their work in this role.

And as if this wasn’t enough newness to handle, we can also add in a couple of events for your delight and edification.

In Brussels on 9 February, we’ll be hosting a discussion with Dr Stefaan de Rynck – former senior aide to Michel Barnier during the UK’s withdrawal negotiations – about his new book “Inside the deal”. Stefaan will be joined by journalist Katrin Pribyl, new President of the European Policy Centre (and UACES patron) Prof Brigid Laffan and former UACES Chair Dr Nick Startin, all of whom bring lots to the table for what promises to be an enthralling discussion.

And we are also bring you the closing conference of our very successful DIMES project. DIMES (Diversity, Inclusion and Multidiscipinarity in European Studies) has brought together a really wide range of historically under-represented people and approaches over the past three years, to great effect. The conference, 16-17 February in Pretoria, will showcase that richness of content and offer participants an opportunity to debate with academics and practitioners drawn from many parts of the world. If your diary doesn’t allow for a trip to South Africa, then you’ll also be able to read more of their work in a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary European Research later this year.

There you have it: lots of new things to do and lots of opportunities for you to be an active part of UACES. As always, we rely on your input to make the Association work as well as it does (which is very), so thank you for all you’ve done and for all I’m sure you’re going to do in 2023.


Prof Simon Usherwood, UACES Chair