E08-What is…Geopolitical Theory?
In the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, geopolitics has assumed greater salience in both public discourse as well as academic discussions. Theoretically, geopolitics is considered integral to Realism in IR. It refers to a particular form of realism which centers the role of geography and technology in the making of state preferences. Continuing the discussion from our previous episode on realism, our interview guest Stefano Guzzini, Professor at Uppsala University and PUC-Rio de Janeiro and Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, delineates how geopolitics is very specifically ‘the militaristic gaze of Realism. To learn more about Geopolitical Theory, tune in to the second part of Vineet Thakur’s (Leiden University) conversation with Stefano Guzzini.
Realism has been one of the most influential theories in the discipline of International Relations. Its critics often label it variously as positivist, state-centric, militaristic, imperialistic, materialistic, immoral and a warmongering theory. In this episode, Stefano Guzzini, Professor at Uppsala University and PUC-Rio de Janeiro and Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, is in conversation with Vineet Thakur (Leiden University). Himself a ‘fallen Realist’, Prof Guzzini discusses the core ideas, theoretical contributions and indeed misunderstandings related to Realism. He differentiates three different dimensions of Realism: as an ontology of politics, as an explanatory theory of power politics, and as a foreign policy strategy of prudent power politics. Tune in to this episode of our ‘What is…’ series that illuminates a theory of default conflictuality in times of global conflict.
E06-What is…Practice Theory in International Relations?
What does a ‘practice turn’ mean in International Relations? In this episode Ingvild Bode (University of Denmark), Associate Professor of International Relations, and Principal Investigator of an ERC research project on autonomous weapons systems and international norms (AUTONORMS) and host Beste İşleyen (University of Amsterdam) engage in an in-depth conversation about Practice Theory in IR. Although IR scholarship, such as Constructivism, has long emphasised the importance of practices in shaping the world, this episode sheds light on the ways practices present
IR scholars with a fruitful concept to engage with the process in which international relations are made. Ingvild Bode’s research agenda covers the area of peace and security, with a theoretical focus combining practice theories and constructivist International Relations. Her ongoing research zooms in on the United Nations and peacekeeping norms. By arguing that a wide gap between established normative understandings of peace and security and the actual norm implementation exists, Ingvild Bode integrates the concept of norm ambiguity to explore this gap.
E05-In Conversation with Kerry Goettlich
How can we theoretically engage with linear borders as cartographic practice, thereby acknowledging their political dimension and place within projects of colonialism and partition? Kerry Goettlich (Reading), winner of the EISA’s Best Dissertation Award 2021 for his thesis “From Frontiers to Borders: The Origins and Consequences of Linear Borders in International Politics” (LSE 2019), suggests to examining linear borders by unpacking their historical causes and consequences. In conversation with Catherine Charrett (Westminster), Kerry Goettlich elaborates on his account which theorizes modern linear borders as an outcome of ‘survey rationality’, and thereby challenges the idea of linear borders as intrinsic to claims of territorial sovereignty. Stressing the political dimension of linear borders, Kerry Goettlich illustrates his argument historically by drawing on colonial projects, and ultimately demonstrates how borders underpin hierarchies by altering the distribution of geographical knowledge resources. Kerry Goettlich’s account does not only contribute to the ‘spatial turn’ in IR, but also to the decolonisation of a prominent and powerful idea.
E04–What is…Ontological Security?
In this episode Bahar Rumelili (Koç University, İstanbul) discusses the concept of ontological security (OS) with host Beste İşleyen (University of Amsterdam). By unpacking the notion of ontological security, we learn how OS as a concept relates to, and differs from other critical security concepts within IR scholarship. Arguing that existing critical approaches to security tend to conflate ontological security and physical security, Bahar Rumelili elaborates on the relationship between identity and security, and her work on identity construction through difference.
By drawing on the Hobbesian state of nature and existentialist philosophy, Bahar Rumelili emphasises the constitutive notion of anxiety for state behaviour in international relations, while contending that an integration of anxiety into the study of IR theory enriches our understanding of state ontological security. Finally, Bahar Rumelili explains how her understanding of security in Europe from an OS perspective provides fruitful avenues for the study of contemporary conflicts.
E03- What is…Liberalism?
This first edition of the new VOICES series “What is…?” focuses on liberalism as a concept in International Relations (IR). Liberalism in its many contexts – be it in political tradition, in economic ideology, social understandings, or polemical attacks – elides a single definition. In this episode, Vineet Thakur (Leiden) talks with Prof. Beate Jahn (Sussex), who has devoted much of her academic career to the study of liberalism, about the empirical and methodological potential of the concept for research in IR. Prof. Jahn argues that the consistent failures of liberalism, for example in peacebuilding operations, are inherent in its contradictions. Indeed, war, imperialism, and economic depression are very much features, not anomalies, of the liberal system. For this, and more on liberalism, listen to Prof. Jahn in this episode.
E02- In Conversation with Ida Danewid
What can the Grenfell Tower fire in London 2017 teach us about the racialized structure of the cities we live in? What are the implications of understanding the violence of neoliberal urbanism for the study of global cities in IR? In ‘The Fire This Time: Grenfell, Racial Capitalism and the Urbanisation of Empire’, Ida Danewid (Sussex), award-winner of the 2020 EISA Best Article in the European Journal of International Relations award, argues that the IR literature on global cities has largely neglected questions of race and racism. In this conversation with Maj Grasten (Copenhagen Business School), Ida Danewid discusses how her contribution connects urban studies and IPE with post- and decolonial, black and indigenous studies, and how we must situate our understanding of global cities in a much wider cartography of imperial and racial violence.
We are in conversation with Ida Danewid.
E01- In Conversation with Deepak Nair
What makes ASEAN diplomacy distinct? Deepak Nair (NUS Singapore), the co-winner of EISA’s 2020 best article award, rejects both essentialist/orientalist as well as generic readings of ASEAN diplomacy and presents a micro-sociological account of ‘face-saving’ practices. Vineet Thakur (Leiden University) interviews Deepak about his background, his interest in Southeast Asia and practice theory, his immersive fieldwork, and more.
We are in conversation with Deepak Nair.