ISA 2015: Call for Proposals

Global IR and Regional Worlds: A New Agenda for International Studies

International Relations (IR), once termed by Stanley Hoffmann as an “American social science,” is gaining popularity around the world. Yet its dominant theories, methods and narratives fail to correspond to the new global distribution of its subjects. Distinctions between the “West” and the “Rest” may be blurring in material terms but these are yet to fully register in the way IR is studied, published, discoursed, and located in terms of centers of learning.

With IR scholars around the world seeking to find their own voice and reexamining their own traditions, our challenge now is to chart a course towards a truly inclusive discipline, recognizing its multiple and diverse foundations – a Global IR. The world of IR is now confronted with new issues, actors, and voices that call for significant re-thinking and broadening of its theories, methods, and empirical horizons. This is not merely the function of a “power shift,” or the rise of new powers. It also reflects the importance of global issues, like human rights violations, the subjugation of women and minorities, racism, financial meltdowns, forced migration, terrorism, disease, and climate change. Global IR is also demanded by the growing role of transnational actors (good or bad), such as international and regional institutions, social movements, or terrorist networks and cross-border criminal gangs.

The Global IR project gives a central place to the study of regions and regionalisms, and integrates disciplinary and area studies. While the world is not being fragmented into regions, it is also not moving inexorably towards a seamless globality. Global IR calls for the acknowledgement of regional diversity and local agency. Our idea of “what makes regions” is being altered. Regions are no longer viewed as fixed geographic or cultural entities, but as dynamic, purposeful, and socially constructed spaces. Regionalism today is less territorially-based or state-centric and encompasses an ever widening range of actors and issues. The traditional divide between regionalism and universalism is blurring.

The notion of “regional worlds,” originally coined by a project at the University of Chicago, captures this broader, inclusive, open, and interactive dynamic of regions and regionalisms. It is not just about the how regions self-organize their economic, political and cultural space, but also about how they relate to each other and shape global order.

The challenge of building a Global IR does not mean a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, it compels us to recognize the diversity that exists in our world, seek common ground, and resolve conflicts. Global IR transcends the “West versus the Rest” divide and recognizes the voices, experiences, and agency of the Global South. This new, pluralistic universalism underpins the possibility of a Global IR.

Against this backdrop, the theme of the 2015 Annual Convention explores the following questions:

  1. When is IR Global? What are the new, current and possible directions and innovations in IR theories, methods and issue areas as IR aspires to become a truly global discipline?
  2. Given the hitherto marginality of the non-Western voices and traditions in its mainstream theories and approaches of IR, what are the ways and sources of knowledge – e.g. world history, classical traditions, cultural practices, foreign policy approaches, writings of scholars, etc. – that can help to make the discipline more inclusive?
  3. What is the relationship between regionalism and universalism, between the local and the global? What are the variations among regions and their institutions, and how do they figure in global governance? 
  4. How can we build greater synergy between IR and area studies, so that we can be true to the name of our association as the International Studies Association?
  5. How does the rise of new powers – e.g., China, India, Brazil, and others – affect the study of IR? Is hegemony a thing of the past or reappearing in new forms?
  6. How do the key transnational challenges of our time, such as environmental degradation, climate change, pandemics, transnational crime, gender violence, refugees and migration, and responses to them, affect regional worlds, North-South relations, and global order?
  7. How do ideas and norms travel? Are local actors and developing countries passive recipients or active agents of norm creation and diffusion?
  8. Do civilizations clash or learn from each other?

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.