What’s the Point of International Relations casts a critical eye on what it is that we think we are doing when we study and teach international relations (IR). It brings together many of IR’s leading thinkers to challenge conventional understandings of the discipline’s origins, history, and composition. It sees IR as a discipline that has much to learn from others, which has not yet lived up to its ambitions or potential, and where much work remains to be done. At the same time, it finds much that is worth celebrating in the discipline’s growing pluralism and views IR as a deeply political, critical, and normative pursuit.
The volume is divided into five parts:
• What is the point of IR?
• The origins of a discipline
• Policing the boundaries
• Engaging the world
• Imagining the future
Although each chapter alludes to and/or discusses central aspects of all of these components, each part is designed to capture the central thrust of the concerns of the contributors. Moving beyond western debate, orthodox perspectives, and uncritical histories this volume is essential reading for all scholars and advanced level students concerned with the history, development, and future of international relations.
Table of Contents
Introduction – Asking questions of, and about, IR
[Synne L. Dyvik, Jan Selby and Rorden Wilkinson]
Part one—What’s the point of IR?
Chapter 1 – What’s the point of IR? The international in the invention of humanity
Chapter 2 – Insecurity redux: The perennial problem of "the point of IR"
[Patrick Thaddeus Jackson]
Chapter 3 – What’s the point of IR? Or, we’re so paranoid, we probably think this question is about us
Chapter 4 – In defense of IR
Part two—The origins of a discipline
Chapter 5 – Relocating the point of IR in understanding industrial-age global problems
[Craig N. Murphy]
Chapter 6 – Past as prefigurative prelude: Feminist peace activists and IR
[Catia C. Confortini]
Chapter 7 – Beyond practitioner histories of international relations: Or, the stories that professors like to tell (about) themselves
Chapter 8 – How elite networks shape the contours of the discipline and what we might do about it
Part three—Policing the boundaries
Chapter 9 – Be careful what you wish for: Positivism and the desire for relevance in the American study of IR
Chapter 10 – Don’t flatter yourself: World politics as we know it is changing and so must disciplinary IR
[L. H. M. Ling]
Chapter 11 – Indian IR: Older and newer orientations
Chapter 12 – Undisciplined IR: Thinking without a net
Part four—Engaging the world
Chapter 13 – Mind the gap: Defining and measuring policy engagement in IR
Chapter 14 – IR theory in the Anthropocene: Time for a reality check?
Chapter 15 – UN studies and IR: History, ideas, and problem-solving
[Thomas G. Weiss]
Chapter 16 – Beyond the "ivory tower?" IR in the world
[Peter Newell and Anna Stavrianakis]
Part five—Imagining the future
Chapter 17 – Escaping from the prison of Political Science: What IR offers that other disciplines do not
Chapter 18 – The future of feminist international relations
Chapter 19 – A methodological turn long overdue: Or, why it is time for critical scholars to cut their losses
Chapter 20 – Subverting the "international:" Imagining future as past
Synne L. Dyvik is Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex, UK.
Jan Selby is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex, UK.
Rorden Wilkinson is Professor and Chair of the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex, UK.
‘Enlightening self-reflection without unhelpful narcissism or drama! These are twenty smart, thoughtful, and really productive chapters. I learned things I will use in my classes and in my own work.’ - Robert A. Denemark, University of Delaware, USA
‘Through a collection of consistently excellent (and valuably divergent) chapters, this timely and provocative volume calls for – and succeeds in modelling – a ‘pluralist’, ‘dialogical’, and ‘political’ discipline of IR. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the purposes of IR and how these relate to its contested past, current dynamism, and yet-uncertain future.’ - Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics, UNSW, Australia
‘A wonderful collection of insightful essays that reveal why international relations has become one of the most exciting areas of academic work, one that has not only absorbed innovative perspectives from economics, politics, and political economy but is also becoming an influential source of ideas for these disciplines.’ - Walden Bello, State University of New York at Binghamton, USA
‘We’ve needed this superb volume sorely for some time – a collection of fresh and invigorating essays, all responding to the editors’ call for a newly ‘open, political and humble’ approach to our discipline. IR emerges through this fresh look not as irrelevant or hamstrung by disciplinary limitations, but as vibrant, diverse and important, and, most of all, as having a very bright future.’ - Nicola Phillips, University of Sheffield, UK
'This is an excellent collection of essays on the current state of the field – and, fortunately, much more oriented towards real-world problems than its title would suggest.' - Chris Brown, London School of Economics, UK