BISA 2024 Call for Papers – What is the International?

07. 11. 2023

Theory in IR currently stands at a threshold. On the one hand, both the present global order
and its academic study are of comparatively recent provenance. Indeed, it is arguably only in
the 21st century that a truly global international order, the end goal of a centuries-long
process, has become a fully achieved condition. On the other, over the last decade IR has
repeatedly proclaimed its own exhaustion. The 2021 British International Studies Association
Conference, for instance, asked in its title theme whether we should ‘Forget International
Studies?’. Others posit the ‘end of international relations theory?’ (Dunne, Hansen, and Wight,
2013) or propose that International Relations is going ‘extinct’ (Mitchell, 2017). How are we
to make sense of this contemporary condition of simultaneous beginning and ending? What
is it that has come to an end? And what is it that is just beginning?

Over the last three decades, critiques of sovereignty and the state have opened IR to
a broad array of actors, processes, and problems, while theories of gender, race, and empire
have revealed the contours of inequality and domination and advanced claims to selfdetermination and difference. Nonetheless, despite this dramatic widening of the field, a
global international order of some form or another remains the ultimate horizon of
contemporary political existence on a world scale. The persistence of this common horizon in
the face of the theoretical plurality of IR provokes the question of the meaning of a specifically
international politics.

Amidst these developments, the idea of the international itself has in fact been the
subject of surprisingly little theoretical reflection. The aim of this panel is thus to begin the
process of moving beyond the exhaustion of IR theory by addressing the key questions that it
provokes. What does it mean to live in an international political condition? What is the core
problematique of the international today? What political potentialities and limits does the
international signify? What does the global scope of international order mean for the
transformation of world politics? What neglected avenues of theoretical reflection are
essential for problematising the international in the twenty-first century?

This Call for Papers proceeds from the idea that global international order and its study
are in their infancy. We remain at the beginning of living and thinking political life on a world
scale. We thus invite scholars to share their theoretical reflections on the problem of the
international in world politics today and the questions its present and future study must

Please express your interest by sending a short (one paragraph) description of your
proposed panel contribution to Regan Burles ( and Andrew Davenport
( by Friday, November 10, 2023.