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The Many Births of International Relations

Date: 16-17 May 2019

Place: Leiden University, The Netherlands


Some years ago, David Long and Brian Schmidt called upon International Relations (IR) scholars to march to the archives and get their ‘hands dirty by reading texts, journals, memoirs, and other sources that have been standing dormant on library shelves’. Scholars who have taken up that challenge have copiously questioned IR’s self-narratives, not least the idea that IR took ‘birth’ in 1919.

However, these archives – like much of this revisionist work – are primarily located in the Global North. Our understanding of how the discipline emerged in America and Europe has been significantly advanced, but there is still very little known about how IR arrived in the (former) colonies. As a field of enquiry that worked to transform the empire into the international in Britain, how did, for instance, IR emerge in places like South Africa where the ‘policy work’ of imperial imagination was already being sketched out by Anthropology? How did IR as a field of study define itself as a self-contained body of knowledge that is distinct from other social sciences in other parts of the world? The ideas of the ‘international’ travelled to different parts of the world through both official – universities, think-tanks, journals, and so on – as well as unofficial – private member groups, networks of individuals – channels. How did people, ideas and institutions come together to form a distinct discipline?

Taken together, how do these different stories of, what we generally see as a monolith, ‘International Relations’ hang together? What do they tell us about how IR as a discipline is understood and negotiated in different parts of the world? This workshop will draw together stories of the discipline’s emergence from several parts of the Global South.


16 May 2019

Venue: 2.60 (Conference Room), Huizinga Building

8:30 – 9:00

Introductory Remarks: Karen Smith and Vineet Thakur, Leiden University

9:00 – 11:30 Chair: Carolien Stolte (Leiden University)

Morten Valbjorn (Aarhus University)
Title: (Arab) Middle East IR: a young discipline with a long tradition

Siddharth Mallavarapu (Shiv Nadar University)
Title: A Disciplinary History of International Relations: Notes from India
Discussant: Karen Smith (Leiden University)

Zeyneb Gulsah Capan (University of Erfurt) and Türkan Özge Onursal-Beşgül (Istanbul Bilgi University)
Title: Debating the ‘international’: Turkey and the Formation of the discipline of IR
Discussant: Alexander Davis (La Trobe University)

11:30-12:00 Tea/coffee break

12:00 – 13: 30 Chair: Maxine David (Leiden University)

Timothy Vasko (Barnard College)
Title: Nature and the Native
Discussant: Türkan Özge Onursal-Beşgül (Istanbul Bilgi University)

Alexander Davis (La Trobe University)
Title: Settler Colonialism and imagining the 'International' in early Australian International Relations
Discussant: Timothy Vasko (Barnard College)

13:30-14:30 LUNCH

14:30- 16:00 Chair: Santino Regilme (Leiden University)

Arlene Tickner
Title: Styles of Thought in Latin American IR
Discussant: Carlos Milani (State University of Rio de Janeiro)

Carlos Milani (State University of Rio de Janeiro)
Title: The foundation of International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis in Brazil
Discussant: Zeynep Gulsah Capan (University of Erfurt)

16:30 onwards: Boat tour, followed by dinner at Surakarta, Noordeinde 51-53

17 May 2019

Venue: 148 Lipsius

8:30 – 10:45 Chair: Lindsay Black (Leiden University)

Kosuke Shimizu (Ryukoku University)
Title: The transcendental whole or mere contingency: the tragedy of the second generation of the Kyoto School philosophers
Discussant: Jungmin Seo (Yonsei University)

Jungmin Seo (Yonsei University)
Title: Indigenization of International Relations Theories in Korea: Essencializing Historical Experiences
Discussant: Hwang Yih-Jye (Leiden University)

Hwang Yih-Jye (Leiden University)
Rethinking the "Chinese School" of International Relations: A Critical Appraisal
Discussant: Kosuke Shimizu (Ryukoku University)

10:45-11:15 Tea/coffee break

11:15-12:45 Chair: Alanna O’Malley

Vineet Thakur (University of Leiden) and Peter Vale (University of Pretoria)
Title: The Mission that very nearly failed! The Founding of the South African Institute of International Affairs
Discussant: Thomas Kwasi Tieku (Western University)

Thomas Kwasi Tieku (Western University)
Title: The Legon School of IR
Discussant: Peter Vale (University of Pretoria)

12:45 – 13:15: Next Steps

13:15-14:00 LUNCH

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The Workshop was co-funded by:

The World International Studies Committee (WISC)

Research Specialization in International Relations, Leiden University

Institute for History, Leiden University

Leiden University Fund, Leiden University