ISA West Pasadena 2013: Call for Proposals

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Disruptions in World Politics: Policy Challenges, Normative Responses

The deadline for the submission of proposals is July 26, 2013.

ISA-West seeks paper, panel and roundtable submissions related to all areas of international studies and world politics. Particularly welcome are submissions related to our 2013 conference theme, Disruptions in World Politics: Policy Challenges, Normative Responses.

The twenty-first century has brought with is disruptions of many kinds, some of which challenge core assumptions of our thinking about the world. These disruptions are such that the assumptions we had previously about the system no longer hold true. Some of these disruptions stem from the rise of new agents in the international system. Individuals, private groups, and non-state actors play a large and growing role in the international system. As such, states are as likely to be fighting non-state actors as they are other states or conventional rebel movements. Other disruptions stem from the ever-growing ties between states, so that economic or financial woes within one state quickly spread, creating regional or even global crises. Connections between people also disrupt politics, as demonstrated by the visible role of social media in the Arab Spring.

Other types of disruptions are less social than technological or environmental. The American use of robotic weapons has fueled a similar drive by other states and non-state actors, with 78 states now using or manufacturing such weapons. Technological innovation is not without consequences of other kinds, as the global struggle for development and higher standards of living put pressure on our environment, and the threat of both long-term climate change and sudden-onset severe weather events casts an ominous shadow over the horizon of the future.

A dangerous dimension of contemporary world politics is the potential for manipulation of the language of disruption for the purpose of evading existing legal or normative constraints. This tactic is deployed by many states around the world, even many that are considered democratic, for the purpose of taking extraordinary measures to deal with a local or global threat.

In policy circles, these disruptions may create unprecedented challenges that must be met with, in many cases, fewer resources. In academic communities, disruptions call into question many long-held assumptions about the role of the state in the international system and the promise of progress toward a better future for those sharing the planet. While disruptions may create anxiety and fear over the break with the familiar past, they may also create opportunities for those who have been disadvantaged by the status quo.

We invite submissions of papers and panels that explore the questions and difficulties raised by the disruptions of the twenty-first century.