International relations scholars are keenly aware of the role of temporal dynamics in understanding phenomena of international politics, and the influence of temporality is acknowledged in works adhering to diverse methodological traditions. It is important, however, in both refining extant theories of global politics as well as in developing new theories from evolving realities, to be attentive to the contexts of those theories and the phenomena to which they pertain. World politics must be contextualized not only in time (across history) but also across space. Whether the units of analysis being studied are world systems, regions, states, or other international actors, the external and internal contexts must include time as well as space and place. Broadly, space includes the spatial dimension of how things stand in relation to one another across physical space, the various ways in which the distance between and among them may be conceptualized and measured, and the meaning of spatial factors. Similarly, place is about where people live, where things are located, and the ways in which people give meaning to those places and draw their identity from them.
Temporality by itself offers an incomplete framework for understanding international relations. The theme of the 2014 annual meeting, “Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization,” calls for a more explicit and extensive attention to the spatial elements, or the spatial contexts, of socio-political phenomena. We encourage the submission of theme panels and papers that explore the importance of space, the relationship between space and time, how space and place can be studied, and the continuing challenges of combining the study of spatiality and time in our analyses of world politics. Moreover, these relationships are emerging and converging in an increasingly globalized world, one in which the very meanings of space, distance, and place are called into question as technology – along with the growing and deepening of the interdependence it engenders – challenges traditional patterns of interstate interactions. The theme panels would be particularly enriched by proposals that focus on multiple dimensions of contemporary international relations, including whether many of the foundations of the Westphalian system are still relevant, and in what ways.
We encourage proposals to juxtapose spatiality/distance/place and the geopolitical context not only with the temporal dimensions, but with the transnational aspects of globalization as well. Doing so holds the promise of illuminating issues such as the impact of borders and their meaning (or lack thereof); the relationships between place and identity; the tensions between place as local with the push and pull of globalization; the relationships among the concept and reality of sovereignty, law and legal borders, and the context generated by the cross-border workings of modern technology, economics, and transnational actors. Thus, in a number of ways this theme carries forward key elements of the two previous conference themes: dealing with the global information age in 2012, and last year addressing the prevalence and impact of diffusion processes.
Our theme calls for an integrative and synergistic approach to understanding critical problems in the current international system. As has been the case in the past, we are especially interested in proposals for papers, panels, and roundtables that deal with these issues through crossing boundaries and creating linkages between academic disciplines, the subfields of both political science and international relations, and across the various sections of ISA. We understand and expect that different scholars and sections will approach these questions – of theory, method, and substance – from different perspectives and emphasize one area more than another, and we value such synergies within panels. One consideration in our choice of theme has been that proposals for theme panels and papers should reflect the interests of a broad range of scholars and ISA sections. We welcome thematic proposals from a diverse range of theoretical, substantive, and methodological perspectives, and would like the theme panels to broadly represent ISA membership and groups.
We expect the focus on spatiality and globalization to be of interest to members of a number of ISA sections and groups – including Foreign Policy, International Political Economy, International Security Studies, Political Demography and Geography, and Scientific Study of International Processes. The broad focus on the relationship of place to identity and culture, along with the role of location and borders, further extends the relevance of this theme to scholars in various ISA sections. Examples of sections where this focus might be more central include Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration, Feminist Theory and Gender Studies, and International Political Sociology. Consideration of how broader transnational issues and globalization interact with borders and jurisdiction, and the location of (and jurisdiction over) groups or individuals, might be the starting points, for example, of panels and papers for the Human Rights, International Law, and International Organization sections. These are, of course, just examples of some sections whose interests are closely related to this theme; we look forward to receiving proposals from members of all ISA sections and groups. It is important to keep in mind that the issues and questions raised above are merely suggestive, and could be – and should be – combined in many other ways.
Sorry, the submission deadline for ISA 2014 ended June 1st. For more information, please contact the program chairs. Even if you did not submit, anyone is welcome to register and attend the conference.