Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A new ISA section: Historical International Relations

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

For a few years now, many of you will have heard us mention the need for a new section at the ISA, one in which there would be a room for historical pieces which engage with international issues in a broad sense. We hereby ask for your support for a new section at the ISA entitled Historical International Relations by signing the online petition at, and forwarding this email to colleagues you think will have an interest in supporting the section.

As you may all have noticed, there seems to be an increasing interest in historical scholarship in the discipline, an interest which is largely reflected in papers and panels presented at the conferences. However, these historical engagements appear in general in a host of different guises, sponsored (sometimes halfheartedly) by different existing sections. Some are sponsored by International Security, others by Diplomatic Studies, while more still have found shelter in the English School Section. While some may not see this as a problem, as it forces historical scholarship to engage with other sections of the discipline, we nevertheless think this situation requires a new section at the ISA.

The idea of a new section is not for historical scholarship to colonize the ISA. We do not see such a section becoming one of the leading sections of the ISA. Rather, we see it as carving out a modest space for scholars who engage historically to work together, meet, and engage with each other’s work without having to pretend to be talking about something else. This common space would allow for conversations across sub-disciplinary boundaries, conversations which are difficult to carry out within many of the other sections of the ISA, and it should thus also increase the overall cohesiveness of the discipline. Rather than fragmenting the discipline, we think a Historical International Relations Section will contribute to increased intra-disciplinary dialogue.

It is important for us to emphasize too that this is not meant to be a section for international history. What we think we have identified, is that to the extent that IR scholars engage historically, they do so as “merry amateurs” rather than professional historians. It is this spirit of collegial openness and inclusion as well as intellectual curiosity which we would like to foster by creating a new section.

In short, we see the founding of a new Historical International Relations section as a way to create a space for this type of scholarship, but also legitimize efforts to address IR historically, as it would make these topics interesting in their own right, and not because of their potential relevance for the other sections.

Thank you for supporting the new section and for forwarding the email.

We look forward to seeing you at the inaugural section meeting in the near future.

Best wishes,

Benjamin de Carvalho, NUPI
Daniel Green, University of Delaware
Halvard Leira, NUPI
Daniel Nexon, Georgetown University
Andrea Paras, University of Guelph

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


COST Action IS1003: ‘International Law between Constitutionalisation and Fragmentation’,Working Group 1: Territoriality  

Organizing Fragmented Territoriality

Call for papers:
Working Group meeting & Workshop
November 15-17, 2012, Hamburg (Germany)

Recently, scholars from various fields in legal studies and the social sciences have begun to re-think implied dichotomies (like national/global, public/private, etc.). Facing criticisms like “methodological nationalism” (Beck) or the “territorial trap” (Agnew), the workshop aims to invite perspectives that take issue with the established nexus of state sovereignty and territo-riality and to re-visit territoriality as a phenomenon organized in a variety of sites and by a variety of actors. Although obviously touching upon related social phenomena, scholars from different disciplines (like international law, international relations, sociology, geography, an-thropology, or history) have rarely linked up research agendas, so far. A major aim of the workshop is to prompt trans-disciplinary engagement.

Debates on globalization, even when focussing on international law confronted by constitu-tionalization and fragmentation, have often continued to conceive of territorial state sover-eignty and dynamics of globalization as a zero-sum game. But is this still appropriate: Do states (still) monopolize territoriality? And if they do not, who else does it, and how?

While liberal approaches to international law have made remarkable steps in facing the social complexities of globalized governance by pointing to the increasingly “disaggregated” character of (democratic) nation-state sovereignty (Slaughter), other scholars have pointed out that the implied networked forms of governance through sub-state entities -- like execu-tive agencies or courts -- are not mere functions of a de-territorialized state. Instead of just reacting to “post-modern” security threats or so-called economic necessities, state agencies rather find themselves involved in a substantive “politics of sovereignty”.

 These politics of sovereignty are not about choosing more or less state, state regulation or de-regulation, or public or private authority. Rather, diverse and, in part, disaggregated state agencies alongside various other actors establish new modes of governing, including the governing of “former” state territoriality. Although no longer alone in the projection of authority, “the state” itself is taking a decisive part in the reorganization of its own territoriality (Sassen). While, no doubt, states have their stakes in the organization of territoriality, they can be expected (and observed!) practicing governance in newly established sites ranging, as has been detailed in different research contexts, from now well-established forms of international governance in the context of International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) to “local” but nevertheless border-crossing arrangements of public-private partnerships. Furthermore, the governance of territory is in danger of slipping out of the states’ hands when IGOs establish increasingly autonomous bureaucracies that tend to emancipate themselves from the mem-ber states consent, or when governance capacities of the state are effectively challenged by private actors emerging on the scene. These different processes – conceivable as different communications constituting a "world society" (Stichweh) – profoundly change the idea of territoriality itself.

Their result might be a fragmented (legal and political) order of territoriality. New and multiple forms of regulation, however, can hardly be seen as consequences of fragmentation. Instead, the politics of sovereignty and fragmented territoriality are inextricably linked and dependent on each other. It is but the constitution of territoriality that -- in a paradoxical move -- brings about its fragmented normativity. This new multiplicity of governance raises questions for the reproduction of global normativity:

- How is territoriality (re-) constructed or challenged in different arenas (political system, legal system, and beyond)?
- How can the category of territoriality be conceived in terms of governance instead of government? What is the nexus between territoriality and governance?
- How do legal phenomena like the legalization of world politics and/or constitutional quality beyond the state emerge? What are the processes that advance/impede le-galization or constitutionalization?
- Which actors are involved? How are they related? And how is their social status de-termined and reproduced?
- How are the dividing lines between public and private established? What separates and what links up these spheres?
- How are the boundaries between law and politics drawn and how does this relate to territory?

Contributions to the workshop could touch upon themes and perspectives including the historicization of territoriality, international law and politics; state and/or non-state politics of sovereignty; the methodology of overcoming territorial traps; Global Administrative Law (GAL); Governmentality perspectives; Legal Pluralism; Sociology of Law; (Global) Governance.

 Please send paper proposals (max. 300 words) to Philip Liste and Katja Freistein (; by July 1st, 2012.

Participants from countries participating in COST Action 1003 can apply for funding for this workshop. As a rule, COST reimburses a flat rate of €120,- per night for accommodation and travel costs for two participants per participating country. For more information on COST Action 1003, please check the website: If you would like to receive COST funding, please attach a short request (max 150 words) to your paper proposal.

Dr. Philip Liste, University of Hamburg, Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Allende-Platz 1, 20146 Hamburg Email:
Dr. Katja Freistein, Bielefeld University, Collaborative Research Centre (SFB 882), Universitaetsstr.25, 33615 Bielefeld Email: