An interdisciplinary workshop on “Political Narratives in Europe and Asia Compared” coordinated by the Institut d’études européennes (IEE) of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in cooperation with the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) at Waseda. The workshop’s academic chair was provided by the IEE-ULB’s president, Professor François Foret.

Detailed programme


The workshop builds on previous work, notably the 2021 publication of the Routledge book  “Value Politics in Japan and Europe” co-edited by professors F. Foret (IEE-ULB) & A. Hino (Waseda) to explore and compare symptomatic political narratives across Europe and Japan. The 2024 workshop initiated by Professor F. Foret aims to foster new joint research in the field of transregional comparative politics with political narratives as the common object of study.

Political narratives have become increasingly salient in contemporary politics, from the “nation-branding”, the search for “soft power” or the framing of conflicts in external affairs, to the conflictualization of identities and values in the internal public spheres. This proliferation and quick obsolescence of narratives can be interpreted as an outcome of political disenchantment and secularization. Many stories compete – “in real life” or in digital media – to fill the void left by the erosion of “big narratives” (e.g., ideologies, nations, religions). The tensions, hybridizations, and clashes between narratives are all the more important in diversifying and individualizing societies and in multilevel systems of governance.

While narratives express historical, social, and cultural specificities, they also circulate worldwide and are shaped by global trends. To avoid essentialism, they must be analyzed both in their context of enunciation (polity/policy sector) and through a comparative prism. Building on previous work, this is what this workshop sets out to do on narratives about leadership, internationalization, and the past.


Each of the day’s 3 panels will see 3-to-4 scholars present their work followed by a Q&A with the attending audience. Contributors to the panels hail both from Europe and Japan; represent different disciplines, and are at varying stages of their respective research careers. 

The explored political narratives are deemed both symptomatic of political dynamics on both sides, as well as particularly relevant to the EU-Japan partnership. The three selected political narratives – on “leadership”, on “internationalization”, and on “the past” –  involve policy areas of either shared interest and which have proven distinctively prevalent in the interregional dialogues between Brussels and Tokyo, be it because these narratives: (i) cover areas of shared interest  (e.g. cooperation in higher education and research), (ii) involve long-term comparative scholarly debates (i.e. History and Memory Studies), or (iii) are repeatedly raised as a key challenge to the efficiency and legitimacy of the Euro-Japanese partnership (i.e. leadership). 

This is a scientific workshop aimed mainly at graduate students, early-stage researchers, or academics interested in the ongoing or nascent work scheduled to be presented across the workshop’s 5 panels. Interested parties are welcome to attend but are requested to register