S27 | Negotiating Divides in IR and Reading International Politics in Times of Crises

Section Chair:

Hartmut Behr,
Newcastle University

The history of the discipline of International Relations is usually narrated as a succession of theories that pursue different ontologies and epistemologies and focus on different problems. IR is riven by theoretical divisions and conflicts between schools of thought that seem increasingly stalemate and self-referential. This narrative provides some structure to a multifaceted field and its diverse discussions, is, however, also highly problematic as it ignores common problems, intersections, and mutual inspirations. This proposal suggests to negotiate between 'IR theories' and to elaborate their shared foci and philosophies of science in order to provide new perspectives on and approaches to readings of international politics. Such negotiation seems to be important in times of global crises when IR scholars have a distinct responsibility to suggest innovative and novel readings of the global polity and of sharpening political reflection and judgment rather than reproducing paradigmatic answers and approaches. A way of approaching these problems is to problematize divides and 'isms' by bringing them into historical, conceptual, and political relation with each other by tracing the genealogies of different theoretical stances and by examining their connections, contradictions, and trajectories. This is in many ways a more demanding process than that of simply drawing up a matrix of core claims and setting them against one another. It involves instead detailed research into the historical development, conceptual lineages, and political contexts of different theoretical positions, the relations between them, and their implications of this process of reinterpretation for contemporary analysis.