While conversations about the parameters of different disciplines occur in conferences, in the pages of journals and through round-tables, the key debates of international relations, remains the mainstay of the discipline we today call International Relations (IR). And yet in teaching IR over many years, lecturers have had to tackle different ways of thinking about and addressing world politics, critiquing and challenging scholarly categories and conventional wisdom, and have been pressed by evermore eager students wishing to draw on the global nature of contemporary international affairs.
Students’ own attitudes from many different parts of the world have highlighted how the processes of exclusion have shaped IR, and made possible further conversations about non-Western approaches, or considerations of further dialogues with continental theories. Adding to this conversation – which is at once between students and scholars, between policy-makers and academics – there now exists an important opportunity to further dialog in distinctive, exciting and original ways, pushing aspects of IR in compelling new directions.
Cerwyn Moore and Chris Farrands' new edited book International Relations Theory and Philosophy: Interpretive Dialogues explores key debates in the contribution contemporary philosophy can make to the understanding of International Relations. In challenging conventional ideas about how knowledge, language, and social practice shape our understanding of the world, philosophers have thrown down a gauntlet to social understanding, and especially to anyone who wants to make sense of the complex cross-cultural uncertainties of this new world of globalized social and political relations. Moore and Farrands assemble a powerful team of scholars, some experienced, some rising stars in their field, to tackle these issues.
Looking at the influence on IR of philosophy through individual authors - ranging from Arendt and Deleuze to Gadamer, Gramsci, Wittgenstein and Levinas (among others) - the contributors offer much more than a standard edited collection. The papers here represent a series of dialogues across the chapters on how contemporary philosophers and philosophy help to re-shape International Relations. The conversations comprise:
• a starting point of rejecting fixed scientific and liberal assumptions of how to 'do' IR
• focussing on the problems of how interpretation is possible, what dialog is and how it creates justifications for what we think we can know
• how ethical possibilities shape interpretations and understandings and in turn are shaped by them.
As well as some 'obvious' important authors, the contributors include revealing analyses of writers not usually found in the contemporary canon of philosophers who influence international thought, such as Susan Sontag, Jan Patočka and Mikhail Bakhtin. All the chapters represent advances in original research. As a whole, this rich, challenging resource should be on every higher level IR and political theory reading list, as well as a host of other disciplines such as cultural theory, sociology and philosophy, and will influence debates in the field of IR for a long time to come.
An extract, written by Dr Patricia Owens, from one of the chapters of the collection, is available to view on e-ir.
Dr Cerwyn Moore is a Lecturer in International Relations, in POLSIS, at the University of Birmingham. Dr Chris Farrands is a Principal Lecturer in International Relations, at Nottingham Trent University.