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45th Annual ISA Convention - Montreal, QC: 2004

Hegemony and its Discontents: Power, Ideology, and Knowledge in the Study and Practice of International Relations

March 17th - 20th, 2004
Montreal, QC, Canada
Program Chairs: Steve Lamy and Rob English, University of Southern California

Paper Archive

Call for Proposals

The theme of this conference refers to the unavoidable linkages between power and ideology, between the study and the practice of international relations, and thus ultimately between power and knowledge. We want to use the conference to explore these relationships and to reflect on our role as scholars in constructing (consciously or unconsciously) the practices of international relations; whatever we might think we are doing in our teaching and writing are we implicitly reinforcing the existing power relationship in the world of international relations? How might our work as scholars contribute to the continuing dominance of politics over economics, of US, and western, power over other areas of the world, and of specific forms of public politics over the private realm? Thus, we are interested in questions about hegemony in both the study and practice of international relations. Underlying this focus are questions concerning the sociology, psychology and politics of the discipline, and its role in reinforcing and protecting economic, political, ethnic and gendered inequalities in world politics.

These questions are particularly relevant in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, a set of events the explanations of which bring to centre stage the linkages between the study and the practice of international politics. These events mean that the field of international relations faces a challenge every bit as fundamental as that posed by the Cold War’s end. More than ten years after the collapse of the bipolar rivalry that long dominated the theory and practice of international relations, the current transformation is rife with both possibilities and pitfalls. Will the new theoretical shoots of the intervening decade prosper or wither in a sharply changed global environment? Will this environment encourage diversification or reification of the neorealist/neoliberal and constructivist approaches? How will the study of power, poverty, interest, and identity be shaped by the ramifying experience of war? And will such conflict – consciously or otherwise – be interpreted primarily as the product of policy choices made since the Cold War’s end, or as the inevitable result of the Cold War’s end?

The theme of the 2004 conference of the International Studies Association is “Hegemony and its Discontents.” As the preceding suggests, this is properly understood on multiple levels. One is to ask about the nature of hegemony – types of power, its exercise, and state and non-state responses to it -- in the emerging international system of the 21st century. Another concerns the power of paradigms – the predominance of rationalist ontology, the reflectivist challenge to it, and the implications of each as research agendas are shaped and reshaped in the study of international relations at a crossroads. Within the discipline what are the effects of hegemonic discourses on diversity? Is the discipline open to difference or are approaches, and individuals, who challenge the mainstream sidelined? How, for example, does the discipline appear to feminist scholars, to scholars from non-white ethnicities, or to scholars from countries that are not economically wealthy? Closely related to these agenda-setting concerns are questions of the intersection between theory and practice. Is the field producing insights of practical value to policymakers? Are policy interests unduly influencing research agendas? And what is the danger that, in a newly charged environment, military-economic hegemony will reinforce academic-theoretical singularity to the detriment of any focus on diversity, originality, and pluralism? In a world where some see attempts to explain the September 11 attacks as disloyal, even traitorous, and others see the academic discipline of International Relations as implicated in the hegemony that motivated the attacks, what is the role of scholarship, and what are the ethical responsibilities of international relations academics?

We welcome papers that deal with the following issues:

•   The nature of hegemony and power in world politics

•   The relationship between political and economic hegemony

•   Hegemony and dominance in the study of international relations

•   September 11th and the changing nature of international relations

•   The impact of hegemony within the discipline on issues of gender, race and ethnicity

•   The relationship between theory and practice

•   The professional role and ethical responsibilities of the international relations scholar

•   The sociology of the academic profession of International Relations

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