The Conference brought together all network partners for three days at the GIGA Institute
From 17 to 19 December 2014 the first IDCAR Network Conference took place at the GIGA‘s premises in Hamburg. It was the first major meeting bringing together the scholars participating in the network since the project has started in July 2014. The conference kicked off with a public podium discussion under the title “With a Little Help from my Friends” - The International Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes in Comparative Perspective. All participants in the podium discussion were IDCAR network members. Kurt Weyland served as the moderator, while the panelists Valerie Bunce, Thomas Richter and Aurel Croissant discussed current processes of diffusion and cooperation of authoritarian regimes in the world regions of their expertise. Two challengers from the audience, Laurence Whitehead and Wolfgang Merkel, presented their comments on the panelists’ statements before a lively plenary discussion followed, with various of the statements being also covered on the network’s new Twitter account.
The conference was an inspiring and successful start of the IDCAR network and set the course for further research projects, exchange and cooperation among the network members. Twenty-nine scholars participated in the conference and presented their current IDCAR-related research in a productive atmosphere, triggering an exchange of diverse theoretical and methodological approaches and ideas of diffusion and cooperation processes of authoritarian rule. After a short welcome by the GIGA’s Vice President Detlef Nolte and the speaker of the IDCAR network André Bank, the network’s coordinator Maria Josua presented the state of current network activities. The first day of the conference was devoted to the discussion of conceptual issues. Different angles on this matter were presented in the various sessions, including the subject areas of authoritarian diffusion, democracy prevention, authoritarian learning, and autocratic linkages. On the second day, papers with a more empirical focus were presented, the bulk of contributions dealt with case studies from the world regions East Asia, the Middle East, and the post-Soviet Space. Finally, the participants discussed the network’s upcoming activities and future strategy, including the question of existing or desirable data sets in the field, to which IDCAR seeks to contribute.