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date: 05 March 2021

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

Putting together this Handbook took quite some time and we have to thank many people who helped us along the way. It all began in the framework of the Research College “Transformative Power of Europe?” at the Freie Universität Berlin funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft—DFG). The Research College (Kolleg-Forschergruppe or KFG in German)—a center for advanced studies with senior scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and PhD researchers—began its work in the fall of 2008. We focused initially on the diffusion of institutional solutions and policy ideas from Europe and the European Union (EU) to the world and back. We also worked on Europeanization and domestic changes in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in the European neighborhood in the East and the South. In 2012, we published a special issue of West European Politics entitled “From Europeanization to Diffusion.” At this point in time, we became increasingly interested in comparative regionalism, but the focus was still on the spread of ideas emanating from Europe to other parts of the world.

However, “our” historians Wolfram Kaiser and Kiran Patel constantly reminded us that Europe and the EU are not the center of the universe and that it was necessary to “provincialize” Europe (Patel) in order to truly engage in comparative regionalism. The more we studied instances of regional cooperation and integration in other parts of the world, the more excited we became. It increasingly dawned on us that the EU was not as unique as EU studies scholars claimed—an insight which scholars of the “new regionalism” have advocated for years.

At about the same time, David Levi-Faur from Hebrew University in Jerusalem was a senior scholar at the KFG. He had just completed The Oxford Handbook of Governance and he talked us into editing a similar handbook of comparative regionalism. We conceived the first outline of this Handbook on the hills overlooking the old town of Jerusalem in November 2011. Unfortunately, David had to resign as co-editor for the volume, but we remain extremely grateful to him for persuading us to edit this Handbook and for his help along the way.

The Handbook then came together through three authors’ conferences at the KFG in Berlin, December 13–14, 2013, June 6–7, 2014, and December 12–13, 2014. The three meetings proved to be a tremendous learning exercise helping us and the authors to produce what we hope is a coherent volume. We are extremely grateful to all our authors for their insights, their spirited criticism, their willingness to move beyond their intellectual comfort zone—and for all the fun we had. Moreover, these conferences would not have been possible without the superb organizational skills of our one and only KFG team, above all Astrid Roos, Katja Pomianowicz, and Anne Morgenstern.

(p. vi) Special thanks go to Luisa Linke who served as the editorial assistant to us throughout the work on the Handbook. Without Luisa’s professionalism and editorial skills, we would not have been able to pull this off. We truly owe you, Luisa! We also thank our student assistants—particularly Catherine Craven and Michael Giesen—for checking references, formatting chapters, and the like.

Last but not least, special thanks to the professional team at Oxford University Press. In particular, we are grateful to Dominic Byatt as the press’s editor in charge for his advice and Olivia Wells for her help during the editing process. We also thank Joanna North for excellent copy-editing, Joanna North for doing the index, as well as Sudhakar Sandacoumar, Nishanthini, and Radha for the production management.

Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse

Berlin, June 2015