Annual Political Science Conference 2016 (DGfA)

Annual Meeting of the Political Science Section of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA)

November 11-12, 2016
John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

Organizers: Christian Lammert, Boris Vormann, Curd Knüpfer, and David Sirakov

During the eight years of the Obama presidency, the United States' economy appears to have recovered from the economic shock induced by the financial crisis of 2008. Job numbers have increased, while key indicators for economic growth continue to gradually rise. Yet at the same time, the U.S., along with most parts of the world, faces historically unprecedented levels of economic inequality.

While social movements such as Occupy Wall Street, on the left, and the Tea Party, on the right, still seemed able to influence political discourse based on perceived injustices and economic imbalance, these debates have lost traction. Meanwhile, the manifold problems caused by inequality persist along the fault lines of wealth, gender, and race.

In November 2016, after the presidential election cycle is officially over and the barrage of campaign rhetoric has abated, we aim to revisit the pressing question of inequality, which appears to lie at the heart of so many of the economic, socio-cultural, and political problems facing the U.S. and the world outside its borders. How has the Obama administration fared in addressing these problems? How have rampant inequalities shaped electoral campaigns and promises? How, if at all, will the next administration and the next Congress address the lingering problems caused by the unequal distribution of wealth, justice, rights, and various forms of capital?

Registration deadline: November 4, 2016

Registration form (please fill out the form and send it to

Conference Schedule

Day 1 – Thursday, November 10, 2016
Theodor-Haubach-Saal, Bundespresseamt

16:00 Opening Panel on U.S. Presidential Elections

Kent Logsdon, Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Andreas Falke, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen-Nürnberg
Prof. Irwin Collier, Ph.D., Freie Universität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Jessica Gienow-Hecht, Freie Universität Berlin

Moderation: Juliane Schäuble (Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin)

18:00 Reception

Day 2 – Friday, November 11, 2016
John F. Kennedy Insitute, Freie Universität Berlin

9:00 - 9:30 Registration

9:30 Film Screening: "Tested" (Curtis Chin)

"'Tested' looks at the important issue of racial diversity and elite public schools by following a dozen families in New York City from different racial, socio-economic and religious backgrounds as they prepare to pass a single standardized test to get into one of the city's best high schools"

11:00 Welcome

11:30 Opening Address

The idea of (in)-equality in American political thought
Prof. Michael Dreyer, PhD

12:30 Lunch Break

14:00 Panel I: Inequalities at Home

Equitable Growth, Mobility or Opportunities for All? How Progressive, Conservative, and Centrist Think Tanks and Research Groups Discuss Income Inequality in the US and Elsewhere
Martin Thunert

Tipping the Scales strategically: Promoting Inequality through a Mass Movement
Michael Oswald

15:30 Coffee Break

16:00 Panel I: Inequalities at Home (continued)

The changing discourse on social inequality in the United States under the influence of the 'sharing economy' and digitization

Nathalie Rauscher

The Wider Implications of Health Inequalities and Disparities in the United States
Betsy Leimbigler

18:00 Keynote Address I

Mortality, Incarceration, and African-American Disenfranchisement
Prof. Michael C. Herron

Day 3 – Saturday, November 12, 2016
John F. Kennedy Insitute, Freie Universität Berlin

09:00 Panel II: Reproducing and Mitigating Inequalities

Inequality and Women’s Higher Education: Wellesley College in Historical Perspective
Katharina Metz und Sophie Spieler

Is College Worth It? The Rising Costs of College Education as a Driver of Inequality
Mathias Enders

10:30 Coffee Break

11:00 Panel II: Reproducing and Mitigating Inequalities (continued)

Not all candidates are equal - they don't even have equal chances. Inequalities in political ambition and political success in the U.S.
Patrick Horst

The Translation of Economic in Political Inequality: A Campaign Finance Case Study
Jörg Hebenstreit

Voting Rights Revisited
Christoph Haas

12:30 Lunch Break

14:00 Panel III: The U.S. and Global Inequalities

Politics stops at the ports: Tracing the politicization of US trade policy
Curd Knüpfer

Built-in Inequality? – A Critical Analysis of Technical Innovation and State Actions in the U.S. Logistics Sector
Christian Güse

15:30 Coffee Break

16:00 Panel III: The U.S. and Global Inequalities (continued)

Inequality in International Organizations
Lora Viola

Can Neoliberalism really explain rising inequality? Examining the post-1980s transformation of the US economy and Financialization as a contending concept
Puneet Bhasin

18:00 Keynote Address II

Neoliberalism, Financialization and Democracy: Ten Theses
Prof. Wendy Brown, PhD

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Prof. Wendy Brown, Ph.D.
Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science
The Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley 

Prof. Michael C. Herron, Ph.D.
Remsen 1943 Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

In association with Atlantische Akademie Rheinland-Pfalz

Contact: or

Artwork: Marina Arbenz (Creative Commons image sources:,