ISA 2020: Call for Proposals

Multiple Identities and Scholarship in a Global IR: One Profession, Many Voices

ISA 61st Annual Convention
March 25th - 28th, 2020, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

The International Studies Association, the primary organizational home for scholars studying international relations, has undergone enormous changes as it enters its seventh decade of existence. It began in 1959 as a small group of scholars located in the Western region of the United States. Today, its membership truly reflects the organization’s name with over 6600 members from over 100 countries. The membership’s composition has changed dramatically to include an increasing number of women, scholars from the Global South, LGBTQ persons, ethnic and racial diversity, a greater mix of academic positions (graduate students, postdocs, visiting and other forms of contingent faculty, alongside traditional faculty ranks), and practitioners. It also has expanded beyond political science to include a wide variety of academic disciplines. As we have grown, we have also sought to create niche intellectual groups within our organization. We now have 7 regions, 29 sections, and 4 caucuses with proposals every year to create more specialized groups within our larger global organization of International Studies scholars.

This diversity brings both challenges and opportunities to ISA that we wish to reflect upon in this call for papers. First, we can consider how our identities may shape the subjects of our studies, as well as our choice of ontology, epistemology, theory and methods. Many of us consider these issues in graduate school, then settle into the approaches of our mentors and rarely look back.

Second, we wish to consider the knowledge generated, as well as that to come, as a result of greater diversity in the association’s membership. For example:

  1. What do we know about international relations as a result of women’s increased visibility in ISA? How can ISA further the visibility and voice of women in international relations?
  2. What do we know about international relations as a result of the growing participation of Global South scholars in ISA? What measures can ISA take to further engage scholars from and in the Global South?
  3. What do we know about international relations as a result of LGBTQ scholars’ visibility in ISA? What measures can ISA take to further engage scholars who are LGBTQ?
  4. What do we know about international relations as a result of the growth of ethnic and racial diversity within ISA? How can ISA address issues related to ethnic and racial diversity in international relations in a concrete and practical way?

Third, we wish to reflect on how we value our scholarship as a result of this diversity, if or how we value particular axes of diversity, and how it can become more inclusive. Have some topics become less marginalized as a result of the increased empowerment of voices within ISA? For example, has research on gendered violence and transgressions against minorities, among other topics, increased in visibility as scholars in these communities have become less marginalized in international studies? What topics remain marginalized?

Fourth, is the knowledge gained on these topics confined to our smaller intellectual groups, or is it shared widely? How does knowledge formed in ISA’s subgroups get transmitted to the larger ISA community? What mechanisms enable the sharing and cumulation of knowledge and which ones are left to build or dismantle toward that end?

Fifth, do identities map onto theoretical, methodological, ontological, and epistemological positions? Do these identities reinforce debates, and pose hurdles to knowledge cumulation? Do these debates and positions reinforce identities? To the good or ill of scholarly progress?

Sixth, in terms of the intellectual identities represented by our many sections, how do they interact with other forms of identity to stimulate knowledge? Does the proliferation of sections lead to the disaggregation of knowledge with little aggregation once it is produced; meaning, do the knowledge claims produced in Foreign Policy Analysis ever cross into International Political Economy, or those in International Law cross into International Organization? What can we do at the organizational level to encourage such linkages across sections?

Seventh, what role should we seek for practitioners in our organization? While scholars may focus on basic research, practitioners are in the middle of adjudicating/translating academic and experiential knowledge. How can we foster this type of activity? ISA lags behind other professional associations in its incorporation of practitioners in our annual conference and other activities.

In sum, we seek to explore the interplay between our roles as experts, researchers, and subjects of our disciplines, and examine how these roles shape and are shaped by the field. We have maintained a growing, global group of international studies scholars for over 60 years. How do we build on this progress to make sure that we continue to do so for the future?

We encourage panels that take stock of progress (or the lack thereof) to date, those that stimulate bridge building, and those that leverage unique perspectives on traditional as well as emerging topics. We also seek panels that examine the identities of the discipline, the disciplining of identities, the co-constitution of personal identity and scholarly discovery, and those that bring diverse identities together in specific research areas.


Types of Proposals

You can read about the various types of proposals that we are accepting for the conference on our submission types page. You can also find details on the requirements - including abstract limits and paper counts - on that page as well.