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23 June 2000

Does Globalisation Make Nation States Obsolete?

The Hettner Lecture: world-class scholars provide inspiration for gifted students—Professor John Agnew lectures on 26 and 27 June—Joint organisers: Institute of Geography of the University of Heidelberg and the Klaus Tschira Foundation

In the framework of the Hettner Lecture organised jointly by the University of Heidelberg's Institute of Geography and the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg will be welcoming a scholar of international rank early next week. John Agnew is professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Now in its fourth year, the Hettner Lecture represents an outstanding form of encouragement for gifted students by combining the lectures proper with workshops and other forms of personal encounter at the Villa Bosch, the headquarters of the Klaus Tschira Foundation. In this way outstandingly promising doctoral students and undergraduates can profit from face-to-face contact with internationally renowned scholars and discuss topical research issues with them.

Agnew is one of the most prominent figures in Political Geography, a field undergoing something of a renaissance at present in Germany. In the 1990s Agnew played a major role in galvanising the globalisation discourse in the English-speaking world. His assessment of globalisation is both more fine-honed and more critical than that of many economists. Another crucial focus in Agnew's research endeavours is the dramatic evolution following the end of the Cold War: the upheaval in Eastern Europe, the political disintegration of the former Soviet Union, conflicts world-wide, the exercise of military force on a scale thought to have been inconceivable after the lessons of World War Two.

The two public lectures delivered by Agnew in the framework of the Hettner Lecture give some insight into his primary research concerns:

National Boundaries and the Borders of Europe
Monday, 26 June 2000, 6.15 p.m.
Great Hall of the Old University, Grabengasse 1

Disputing the Nature of the International in Political Geography
Tuesday, 27 June 2000, 3.15 p.m.
Physics lecture theatre, Im Neuenheimer Feld 308

Tele-teaching: Tuesday lecture broadcast live on the internet

Professor Agnew's Tuesday lecture will be transmitted live on the internet. For more information see

Alongside the lectures themselves, the Hettner Lecture concept offers gifted academics of the upcoming generation specialising in geography, sociology or economics from Germany, Austria and Switzerland the opportunity of making face-to-fact contact with the doyens of their particular subjects. No other forum provided by the University can rival the Hettner Lecture in this respect. At traditional scholarly conferences the speakers usually have little time for exchanges with budding academics. But there is nothing to equal the indelible impression such an encounter with major academic figures can have on the younger generation of scholars. The excitement and anticipation generated by this event is correspondingly high.

This year's seminars take place from 28-30 June and concentrate on the following topics:

  • The Territorial Trap: the Geographical Assumptions of International Relations Theory
  • Mapping Political Power beyond State Boundaries
  • Time into Space: the Myth of Backward Italy in Modern Europe

The term "territorial trap" coined by John A. Agnew has set off a large-scale discussion within the social and political sciences. Agnew uses it to identify and attack the unthinking and largely untenable concentration in scholarly circles on the nation state as a "god-given" organisational principle in society. In an increasingly globalised world it is crucial to recall that the nation state itself is a result of historical and political processes. But the present political upheavals do not necessarily spell the demise of the nation state as such. The important thing in Agnew's view is for there to be in-depth discussion on the changes to, and the future role of, nation states if political geography and the political sciences seriously hope to develop tenable blueprints for the future. Taking Europe as an example he casts a challenging light on the controversies about the "borders of Europe" sparked off by German foreign minister Fischer's recent speech on the subject of Europe.

The declared aim of the Klaus Tschira Foundation gGmbH, Heidelberg, is to promote the sciences and encourage international scientific and scholarly cooperation. At present its main focus is on funding and fostering research endeavours in the field of applied information science and adjacent areas. For more detailed information see

Alfred Hettner (1859-1941), first holder of the chair of geography at the University of Heidelberg, is one of the scholars who have done most to enhance the University's worldwide renown. Hettner was among Germany's most influential geographers and is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the subject as an academic discipline.

Detailed information and personal contacts (for inquiries, photos, arranging interviews etc.) are available at the organisers' offices 30 minutes before each of the lectures. Please phone in beforehand.

Phone numbers and organisers' offices:
Secretariat Prof. Dr. P. Meusburger: 06221/544573
H. Jöns: 06221/544372
Villa Bosch: 06221/160102
(Tue., Thurs., Fri. 2.30—6 p.m.; Wed. 9.30 a.m.—1 p.m.)

Contact person for the Klaus Tschira Foundation:
Renate Ries (press and public relations officer)
phone: 06221/533214, fax: 533198

Contact person for the University of Heidelberg:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Copyright © Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg. 
Updated: 24.06.2000





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