S29 | Normative Ambitions, (De)Militarised Societies and the Transcendence of War

Section Chairs:

Jonathan Gilmore,
Kingston University

Jeremy Moses,
University of Canterbury

This section revisits what was perhaps the foundational normative ambition of international relations – the objective of transcending or abolishing war as a political practice in world politics. The inter-war idealist currents within which the discipline emerged aimed to remake world politics following the catastrophe of World War I. As the conventional story of IR's origins attests, World War II and the Cold War dampened the prospects for such an ambitious normative vision during the 20th Century. In a similar way, the crises, violent conflicts and human rights abuse in the current decade have led to re-appraisals of the optimism that accompanied the start of the new millennium.

The panels within this section aim to explore the diverse manifestations of this original normative ambition in the contemporary world of IR and the crises that have accompanied it. In keeping with Ken Booth’s appeal for 'concrete utopias', the section investigates the connections between new normative agendas, pacifist ethics and the means through which these might be advanced. It will also examine the reaction against utopian solutions and consider whether this has stunted the ability of those researching world politics to formulate an agenda for the transcendence of war.

The section will draw from a variety of methodological standpoints to examine the ways in which the transition toward a vision of global, rather than international politics, and a human, rather than state-centred world, may have raised new questions about where the search for world peace might be best located.