Best Graduate Paper 2018

The winner of the EISA´s Best Graduate Paper 2018 award is Philip Conway for his paper “Prolegomena to a Future Planet Politics: From Disciplinary Demise to Cosmopolitical Coordination”.


The abstract of the paper:

From climatic chaos to mass extinction, ‘resource wars’ to unprecedented urbanisation—world politics has, in recent decades, become inescapably planetary. Recent disciplinary discussions concerning “Planet Politics” are, therefore, timely. However, the debate, to date, has been limited by a number of conceptual and political problems. In particular, conflicting understandings of multiplicity and pluralism fail to establish a coherent sense of what is truly political in planet politics. Working with Gayatri Spivak’s concept of “planetarity” and Isabelle Stengers’ “cosmopolitics,” this intervention consists of a diagnosis, a method, and an alternative. The diagnosis is that this debate has failed to constitute a workable starting point for the very thought processes, and political processes, that those involved demand. The method is simultaneously ‘forensic’ and ‘diplomatic’—that is, it focuses on bringing undisclosed and semi-disclosed conflicts into the open while, furthermore, “thinking through the middle” of the established polemical positions, enabling new possibilities. The alternative, finally, proposes to fundamentally distinguish a cosmopolitan agenda of global connectedness from a cosmopolitical process of situated coordination. In neglecting to admit such a distinction, planet politics has, thus far, failed to adequately engage either the planetary or the political.


The committee comment:

Philip Conway’s paper addresses a live, important and controversial debate in contemporary IR – and one that its protagonists see as being of fundamental importance to the future of the discipline, as well as its objects of study. Anthony Burke, Stefanie Fishel, Audra Mitchell, Simon Dalby and Daniel Levine’s Planet Politics: A Manifesto from the End of IR (2016) elicited a strong response from David Chandler, Erika Cudworth and Stephen Hobden (2017) and an equally spirited rejoinder. But where these exchanges have brought much heat, Conway’s piece illuminates, finding common ground between the positions – in showing shared dead ends as well as productive and important avenues of exploration. Moreover, Conway combines ‘forensic’ and ‘diplomatic’ approaches to good effect as his ‘prologue’ not only traces a new via media, but also brings new ways of understanding the global political and its stakes by way of ‘planetarity’ and ‘cosmopolitics’. Philip Conway shows excellent command of complex theory in an emerging field and deftly thinks with as well as against the various protagonists, not shying away from controversy but engaging it – and doing so in a constructive manner. We are confident that Conway’s work will become required reading for those interested in planet politics – and in the future of IR.

About the Best Gradaute Paper award

The Best Graduate Paper Award recognizes and supports the contribution of PhD students to the development of the field of International Relations. The paper awarded with this prize must be an original  contribution to existing debates in the field and offer a careful, convincing and rigorous analysis. The recipient will be chosen from the contributions of graduate students to the annual EWIS workshops.