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Call for Papers. "Rethinking Anarchy in International Politics"

dimanche 21 septembre 2014, par ps

Until very recently, anarchy was arguably the pole star of the discipline of International Relations. This is probably no longer the case. Feminist, poststructuralist, Marxist, postcolonial and many liberal scholars have consistently argued that anarchy occludes more than it clarifies. These scholars claim that imperialism, hierarchy, interdependence and/or patriarchy are more significant structural features of world politics and that a defence of anarchy amounts to a defence of decidedly nefarious political orders. What is notable is that both conventional and critical approaches to IR tend to operate on the assumption that they know what anarchy is. That is, most IR theory uses anarchy in the sense found in many introductory IR texts, namely that anarchy is the absence of rule, a system of self-help, and the lack of a centralized authority. Yet, few if any scholars have reflected deeply on what anarchy actually is, what the word means and the different ways in which anarchy as a concept is deployed and understood. This is deeply problematic because when scholars argue about the relative causal role of anarchy, or question its political consequences, or even deny it is a concept with any analytical or explanatory purchase, they are using thenword to refer to different types of things entirely, presupposing very different ontological and methodological starting points and quite distinct epistemological orientations.

Rather than follow others in arguing that IR should reject the concept, this workshop will explore whether the concept of anarchy can withstand the myriad critiques advanced by Marxist, feminist, liberal and postcolonial scholars, or whether it needs redefining, re-theorising, or repositioning in the field. To this end we invite scholars working in or drawing on the alternative ways of conceptualising anarchy developed both within and outside of IR over the last quarter of a century.

We invite scholars from a range of disciplines in the social sciences, including political theory, new materialism, science studies, cybernetics, anarchist studies, and neo-pluralist approaches to social science, as well as the sub-fields of International Relations, to debate how IR scholars should conceptualise and theorise anarchy to make sense of contemporary global politics. Contributions must address the concept of anarchy directly, from whichever perspective, and relate discussion to international relations or global politics broadly conceived. Our aim is to reinvigorate the ways in which anarchy is conceptualized within International Relations.

The 40th anniversary of the British International Studies Association provides the ideal opportunity to critically reflect upon the nature of anarchy and to explore how new ways of thinking about anarchy can reinvigorate the study of world politics. Provisionally confirmed participants include : James Fearon (Stanford), Mathias Albert (Biefeld), Peter Halden (Swedish National Defence College), Alex Prichard (Exeter), Jonathan Havercroft (Southampton), Robin Dunford (Brighton), Saul Newman(Goldsmith’s). We can accept up to 20 participants including two in reserve. Please get in touch soon. Assuming the workshop proposal is successful and we secure more papers than we can accommodate, those not selected for the @40 workshop will be submitted as a series of panels for the main BISA conference. The workshop conveners will also be scheduling a roundtable at the conference on the theme of anarchy andinternational Relations. Details about the workshop series and the BISA conference can be found here :

Please submit paper abstracts, of no more than 250 words, to Jonathan Havercroft and Alex Prichard by Friday the 3rd of October. If you cannot attend the workshop, but would like to have a paper considered for the main conference, please feel free to submit an abstract by that date, but no later than the 21st of November.