Category Archives: IPE

Episode 12: Marxism in IR, with Maïa Pal

Our guest for Episode 12 of Fully Automated is Maïa Pal, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford Brookes University. Among other things, Maïa is a scholar of early modern European history, focusing on the colonial origins of the modern state. She is an editor for Historical Materialism. And she is currently working on a book project, entitled Jurisdictional Accumulation: an Early Modern History of Law, Empires, and Capital (forthcoming, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). You can find her on Twitter @maia_pal

This episode represents the third installment in our occasional series, on Marxism in International Relations. Previous guests in this series include Bryant Sculos (Episode 9), on the the topic of Marxist pedagogy, and Kevin Funk and Sebastian Sclofsky (Episode 10), about the sorry state of Marxism in IR, and in Political Science more generally. In this episode, however, Maia helps us begin to think about what it might mean to apply Marxism, in IR.

I invited Maïa on the show after I read her recent piece, Introducing Marxism in International Relations, in e-IR. In this piece, she argues that the contribution of Marxism in IR is to reveal what other, less critical approaches may contrive to hide. That is, how many concepts we normally take for granted in IR, like the international itself, can distract us from analyzing the social relations that comprise them, and the history of the material conditions that shape those relations, in turn.

As we discuss, some of even the most critical scholars in IR eschew Marxism because they fear it constitutes a kind of dogmatism. In the interview, however, you’ll hear Maia refer to a letter that Karl Marx wrote, to Arnold Ruge, in which he states:

“But if the designing of the future and the proclamation of ready-made solutions for all time is not our affair, then we realize all the more clearly what we have to accomplish in the present—I am speaking of a ruthless criticism of everything existing, ruthless in two senses: The criticism must not be afraid of its own conclusions, nor of conflict with the powers that be.”

So, in this spirit, Pal outlines for us what we might perhaps want to call a relentless Marxism — one unafraid to examine itself, and its own suppositions about the world.

As Maia says in the interview, the function of Marxism in IR is to challenge and destabilize many of the concepts it cherishes, and which might appear otherwise stable to the scholar: not just the division between the national and the international, but that of the political and the economic. Marxism, Maia suggests, shatters the “linear progressive narrative of the history of international relations,” as a discipline, and opens us up to the possibility of a much more messy and brutal history; a history of empire, and imperial conquest!

We covered A LOT of ground in this interview, and the result is a slightly longer episode than usual. But I hope you’ll stick with us to the end. Later in the show, you’re going to hear us talk about some of the implications of Maia’s work for the left today: whether or in what respects can we say the state in globalization still has political capacity, and how might the left conceive of this capacity as it grapples with the question of anti-capitalist strategy; and how debates about xenophobia among the working class and so-called ‘deplorables’ can overlook not only the nuances of working-class electoral preferences, but can distract us from thinking about the ‘normal’ racism of the state as it works to categorize migrant populations as undeserving of access to wealthy zones and spaces, within globalization.

Towards the end, we’ll also chat about what its like to be an editor with a left-academic journal like Historical Materialism, and get a little bit into the rationale behind the journal’s latest issue, on identity politics. Finally, we get into Maia’s current book project, and why she believes that Marxists need to pay more attention to the significance of ‘jurisdictional accumulation’, both in the pre-history of capitalist globalization, and as a specific condition shaping the play of global capitalist dynamics today.

Episode 8: Colin Coulter on Ireland, Austerity’s “Model Pupil”?

Coulter & Nagle, Eds.

On today’s episode, we are joined by Colin Coulter, of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Colin is a Lecturer in Sociology, and he has an article out recently in Critical Sociology, co-authored with Francisco Arqueros-Fernández and Angela Nagle, entitled Austerity’s Model Pupil: The Ideological Uses of Ireland during the Eurozone Crisis.

As some listeners may know, I have myself been working on a book about the role of culture in Irish austerity. And I’ve always found Colin to be a really great writer on this subject. He has a real knack for seamlessly blending together both analysis of the material dynamics of the Irish financial crisis, with a critique of the role of culture as force sustaining the legitimacy of austerity as the necessary solution. This cultural project is one being carried out by government institutions, to be sure, but also by a number of other cultural agencies that exist within Irish society, as they seek to orient Irish people better to understand their responsibility in causing the crisis.

But Colin also has an analysis of how certain strains within the Irish academic left have perhaps enabled this process — namely by overlooking questions to do with the production of capitalist culture. Colin explains the role of capitalist culture in Ireland in a really accessible manner, so its great to have him on the show. I think you’ll really enjoy the interview.

You can find a copy of Colin’s article on my Dropbox. Remember, if you like what you hear, please leave us a positive review on iTunes. As ever, if you have any feedback, you can reach us on Twitter @occupyirtheory. Enjoy the show!

Episode 3: Book Club – Peter Frase’s ‘Four Futures’

Four Futures

This episode is the first in an occasional ‘book club’ series of podcasts we will be doing, in an around the topic of fully automated luxury communism. This episode’s book is Four Futures, by Peter Frase (which is part of the Jacobin series, from Verso Books).

My guests on the show are Laura Horn and Phil Davis. Laura is a political economist working at the University of Roskilde, just outside of Copenhagen in Denmark. While her own research has mainly focused on dimensions of capitalist restructuring in the European Union, she has a strong political and personal interest in the nexus between political economy and science fiction. Four Futures is one of the texts she uses in her course ‘Repoliticising Capitalism: Contradictions, critique and alternatives’.

Phil Davis is a molecular biologist working in the Biodefense sector in the Washington DC area. He’s currently working towards a master’s degree in Bioinformatics from University of Maryland University College. Four Futures sits at the intersection of his enthusiasm for both left-wing politics and futurology. His hobbies also include music.

If you have any questions or comments, please send us a tweet @occupyirtheory

Reply, ‘Always Already Podcast’ on Martijn Konings’s ‘Emotional Logic of Capitalism’

It was my pleasure recently to be invited by the ‘Always Already Podcast’ team to put in a guest appearance on their show, and respond to their recent episode on Martijn Konings’s fascinating book, The Emotional Logic of Capitalism. They offered me a 10-minute slot, and ran it in Episode 19 of their Epistemic Unruliness series. Below, you can find a slightly edited and extended version of my remarks, which were provoked by their own engagement with Konings’s book, but also by my own, continuing work on austerity and recession in Ireland. For ease of reading’s sake, I have added in some material from remarks I made at another talk I gave on February 17, this year, at Ohio State’s ‘Research in International Politics’ (RIP) group, entitled Austerity as Tragedy? From Neoliberal Governmentality to the Critique of Late Capitalist Control:

Continue reading Reply, ‘Always Already Podcast’ on Martijn Konings’s ‘Emotional Logic of Capitalism’

Debating Austerity with Dan O’Brien

UPDATE: the letter below was subsequently printed, and can be read here (with some alterations made by the paper’s editor, it seems)…

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/nothing-to-fear-about-prospect-of-a-socialistled-government-34157028.html


This is my letter to the Irish Independent (I know, I know, why bother…), about Dan O’Brien’s piece today:

To Whom It May Concern,

Dan O’Brien (29/10) claims that because there are no self-described neoliberals, it is not possible to engage with their ideas. But surely he would not deny the historical existence of self-described free market radicals, like Milton Friedman and Gary Becker, or the historic influence of their ideas on government policymakers, like Paul Volker and Margaret Thatcher.

Neoliberalism, quite simply, is a theory that advocates applying the laws of the market to as many domains of human existence as possible, as intensely as possible. Neoliberals take up the ideas of early liberals, like Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Those thinkers had faith in the virtue of market-based competition as a mechanism for optimizing the distribution goods and services. Moreover, they believed the experience of buying and selling in the marketplace was a moral corrective, producing over time a class of responsible and capable citizens, named ‘entrepreneurs’.

Continue reading Debating Austerity with Dan O’Brien

#RubySeries List for #ISA2015

Following Cynthia Weber’s recent post over at Duck of Minerva, there has been a lot of debate about the International Studies Association’s planned ‘Saphire Series’ for the upcoming annual conference in New Orleans. Some of that debate has been taking place at the #occupyirtheory/ipe Facebook group. With now over 175 comments, there have been a wide ranging set of proposals and ideas about the issues raised by the Series, and how to respond to them. Many will be using the #Ruby hashtag on Twitter to maintain communications on these issues as the conference proceeds. Another idea has been for people to list any panels they feel might offer the possibility of institutionally balancing the dominant ‘white, male and tenured’ voices the Series is showcasing. Interested readers can also follow the Twitter hashtag #RubySeries for updates on these panels.

Disclaimer: this list is based on suggestions made in context of an open and ongoing discussion at the OccupyIR group on Facebook, among other places, about ISA’s Sapphire Series. It is not intended as a way of ‘promoting’ select panels. It is merely a way for people to link their panels together in an expression of solidarity in response to the perceived elitism of the Sapphire series. If you are part of a panel that you do want listed, let me know. Similarly, if you do not want your panel listed, I am happy to remove it for you.

Ruby Series: Celebrating Multiple Voices in Conversation

Current as of  02/17/15 — 71 Panels!

Wednesday

  1. WA10: Presidential Theme Panel: Advancing Global IR (I): Challenges And Prospects
  2. WA11: Rethinking Silence, Voice and Agency in Feminist Approaches to Security
  3. WA21: Local Actors and the Diffusion of Gender Norms in Developing Regions
  4. WA41: Decolonizing Methods: New Tools for Global IR
  5. WA52: Anti-Colonial Poetics and the Lived Experience of Politics
  6. WA 56: Presidential Theme Panel – Indigenous Peoples, Values And Sovereignty, In The Study Of Global Politics
  7. WB30: Presidential Theme Panel: Bandung+60: Legacies and Contradictions
  8. WB31: Postcolonialism, Feminism And Global International Relations: Remembering The Legacy Of Geeta Chowdhry
  9. WB78: Women’s Activism in Revolutions and Crises
  10. WC18: Embodiment, Experience and War: Methodological Challenges and Reflections
  11. WC19: Do We Know Gender in Peacebuilding? (I) Gender Mainstreaming and UNSCR 1325
  12. WC40: Girls, Gender and the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda
  13. WC60: Women in Conflict: Perspectives
  14. WD02: FTGS Eminent Scholar Panel Honoring Shirin M. Rai
  15. WD08: New Thinking on Religions and Civilizations in World Politics
  16. WD52: Representation and Practice: Bodies, Borders and Orders of Security
  17. WD58: Living Globalisation: Female Academics at Home and Abroad

Thursday

  1. TA10: What’s Wrong with a Singular World?
  2. TA11: Gendering International Organisations
  3. TA 22: Race And International Relaons: A Debate Around John Hobson’s “The Eurocentric Conception Of World Politics”
  4. TA30: Borders and Belonging: Gender, Nation, Ethnicity in Transnational Relations
  5. TA29: roundtable on “(Everyday) Sexism in the Academy: Stories & Strategies”
  6. TA38: roundtable: Does Russell Brand Have A Point, Or Does Being Cheeky Count As Revolution?
  7. TA50: The End of Militarized Masculinity? Global Perspectives on Gender and Traveling Concepts
  8. TA51: Is the Personal-National Globally Political? Theorizing the International Diffusion of LGBTQ Rights
  9. TA69 Claiming a Voice: Politics in a World of Inequality.
  10. TB30 Presidential Theme Panel – Feminist International Relations Today: A Discipline Transformed?
  11. TB50: Global Feminist IR
  12. TC02 Race and Racism in International Relations
  13. TC06: Presidential Theme Panel – How The Search For ‘Non-Western IR’ Led To A Reflection Of The ‘Self’: (Un)Learning IR In And Beyond The Classroom
  14. TC07: Globalizing International Studies Pedagogies
  15. TC16: Gender and Human Rights, 1:45pm
  16. TC21: Art as Subject, Art as Method
  17. TC56: Decolonial Methodologies: Critiques and Experiences from the Fieldwork
  18. TC72: Critical Friends and De(Con)Structure Critics: How Should Feminist Academics Engage with Global Institutions?
  19. TD09: IR’s Eurocentric Limitations TD21: roundtable on “After Deepwater Horizon: Rebuilding Indigenous Communities After the BP Gulf Oil Disaster”
  20. TD14: Colonial Legacies and Decolonizing Trajectories
  21. TD33: Making Sense of Emotions, Politics and War
  22. TD52: Global Human Trafficking and Gender
  23. TD57: Global Masculinities in a Transnational World

Friday

  1. FA13: Conceptualising the Use of Sexual Violence and Rape in War
  2. FA22: Do Something: Activism, Responsibility and the Politics of ‘Helping’
  3. FA47: Gendering the Global Political Economy
  4. FB10: Presidential Theme Panel: Decolonizing the Western Academy: Postcolonial Challenges to Global IR
  5. FB27: LGBT Issues and Diffusion
  6. FB34: Queering/Querying Global Political Economy
  7. FC01: Angela Davis honored as IPE section’s 2015 Outstanding Activist Scholar in New Orleans. (co-chaired by J. Ann Tickner and Hasmet M. Uluorta. More information will be coming shortly. If you have any questions please contact Hasmet — huluorta@trentu.ca )
  8. FC19: Deconstructing Silence and Agency in Sites of Insecurity
  9. FC26: Political Engagement and Political Alternatives in The Age of Austerity In Europe
  10. FC27: Queering Global Politics: Destabilization or Disciplinarity
  11. FC39 Presidential Theme Panel: Three Decades of Worlding IR: A roundtable Retrospective
  12. FC55: Addressing Gender-Based Violence: Issues and Responses
  13. FC57: Presidential Theme Panel “Postcolonialism, Race And IR: War, Capitalism, Segregation, Tribes, Literature”
  14. FC72: Women in Conflict: Agency and Human Security
  15. FC74: Sex Gender Violence Desire?
  16. FD36: Queering IR Theory
  17. FD37 Presidential Theme Panel/Global Development Distinguished Scholar Panel in Honors of Prof. Pal Ahluwalia
  18. FD56: Presidential Theme Panel – W.E.B. Du Bois: The Global Color Line And North American IR
  19. FD57: Making Bodies International
  20. FD59: Gender-Based Violence in ‘War’ and ‘Peace’

Saturday

  1. SA07: Regional Institution Building In Comparative Perspective
  2. SA25: The Global Dead (II): Mourning, Suffering, Witnessing
  3. SA31: Economic Development and Women’s (Dis)Empowerment
  4. SA41: Art Matters: On the Aesthetics of Violence, Death and Memory
  5. SA61: Queer Theory and the International
  6. SA72: International Relations as the Crossroads of the Global and the Local
  7. SB17: Beyond Biopolitics and Risk in Post 9/11 Critical Scholarship: The Affective Politics of the War on Terror and Beyond
  8. SB47: Masculinities, Militarism and Feminist Security Studies
  9. SB43: Bodies In/And/Of/For Global Health
  10. SB54: Sexualised Violence, Surveillance and New Security Technologies
  11. SB57: Presidential Theme Panel – 34 Ways To Say “International Relations”: The Teaching, Research And Interna

CFP – Global Crises / Capitalist Expressions: Critical Connections

***CFP for a panel***

Title: Global Crises / Capitalist Expressions: Critical Connections

Where: EISA 9th Pan-European Conference, Sicily, 23-26 September 2015

Abstract: What are the ways that relations of global capitalism can be made intelligible through analyses of various “crises”? This panel seeks to develop the analysis of contemporary capital by way of capturing its expressions, or effects, in a range of contemporary global crises (economic, environmental, epidemic, colonial, militaristic, etc.). We hope to highlight different iterations of global capitalism through its intrinsic tendency to crisis, and by doing so, to underscore the possibilities of a variety approaches to the critique of capitalism. Thus, we invite papers addressing a breadth of potential sites and scenes of contemporary capitalism’s globality, from those involving more immediately situated struggles over the limits it places on everyday material existence to more widely-scaled analyses, focusing on the governmental and governmentalizing dynamics of globalization itself. Gathering these various approaches together, this panel will be an opportunity to explore the stakes of global capitalist discourse and practice as it advances norms of market-based existence, individual responsibility, flexible partnership and resilience, all the while beset by the aporias of uneven development, financialization, war profiteering, corporate welfare, and the reckless extraction and consumption of resources.

For more info, contact Nicholas Kiersey (at the address on this website) or Garnet Kindervater. Submissions no later than Monday, September 29, please.

Austerity: A Dangerous Accident?

Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, 288 pp.

(Note: This is an extended, remixed version of a book review I’ve written for a forthcoming issue of New Political Science).

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In the context of the current financial crisis, it is fair to expect that any book taking as its title Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea should satisfy at least two criteria. On the one hand, the book should present a robust exposition of the basic genealogy of the concept. On the other, the book should try to offer an argument as to how this idea achieved such a preeminent position in guiding not only the decisions of key policymakers but also the everyday, commonsensical worldview of the very populations for whomthese decisions will have the most serious consequences. It is in terms of the former that Blyth’s book is strong.

Continue reading Austerity: A Dangerous Accident?

Struggling with Precarity: From More and Better Jobs to Less and Lesser Work | The Disorder Of Things

From Wanda Vrasti, does the language of precarity empower us? Or can we do better?

But what if precarity was the wrong rallying point to focus on? What if instead of describing a shared experience all that the concept did was point to the absence of a common ground? Is there any way we could turn precarity around from a testament to our shared vulnerability into a positive affirmation of collective desire?

via Struggling with Precarity: From More and Better Jobs to Less and Lesser Work | The Disorder Of Things.

Battlestar Galactica & International Relations


Battlestar Galactica & International Relations

Battlestar Galactica and International Relations (Hardback) – Routledge.

Just a brief note to let you know the book I co-edited with Iver Neumann, Battlestar Galactica & International Relations, is now available. You can buy it on Amazon in hardback and Kindle formats here. A cheaper, paperback version of the book will be coming later this year. This project has been over two years in the making, and started with a random encounter at the bar at an ISA convention in New York. As the convention was taking place, the cast and crew of the show were addressing the United Nations, just up the road, on the plight of child soldiers! We were pretty blown away by the idea that such an encounter was even possible. And we got talking… well, what WAS “BSG’s” political message, anyway? At the following year’s ISA in New Orleans, we held a panel wherein we discussed some ideas about the show and noticed that, well, some IR folk were *serious* fans of the show:

bsg panel

Continue reading Battlestar Galactica & International Relations