A comprehensive review of the scholarly literature on the transnational movement of Hizbollah (Party of God) in the global arena examines the sociopolitical history, military capacities, strategies, and alliances of the Hizbollah movement. Situated in a narrow understanding of global politics and international relations such an examination reveals that Hizbollah poses a particular problem for international relations when the hegemonic nation-state remains the primary site of analysis. The literature on Hizbollah consistently fails to acknowledge the limitations of this worldview, and as such, continues to characterize Hizbollah as a disruptive Iranian-led militia instead of a transnational social movement rooted firmly in its followers’ self-confidence and commitment to an ideology with religious elements. As a transnational movement, Hizbollah has all but abandoned the realization of an Islamic state, holds limited military power, and is influenced by international norms and socialization. As such, the most interesting aspect of Hizbollah’s political trajectory is its imaginative politics—forms of expression rooted in its transnational attributes, developed in historical contexts, and acted upon by individual supporters of the movement through social relationships. A narrow view of the global arena as organized states in a hierarchy expands explorations of the Hizbollah movement into areas and subfields such as a Middle East studies and gender studies. These subfields have contributed valuable ethnographic research that informs a new methodological approach and resulting arguments. From this framework, based on a spatially cognizant recognition of a global Middle East, the analysis shows that Hizbollah’s various transnational attributes—including a commitment to ideological production, becoming a martyr, and following the spiritual leadership of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—become “transitioning spaces” (as used by diaspora studies scholar Dora Silva Santana) forged in kinship that make it possible to imagine other worlds. The spiritual and sensual world that Hizbollah supporters conjure competes with the international system of political organization to make the movement noteworthy to the global arena. Importantly, this is not an alternative world, but one that coexists to challenge a focus on military, alliance, or material approaches alone.
Dawisson Lopes, João Paulo Nicolini, and Thales Carvalho
The Brazilian field of international relations (IRs) has evolved over the course of two centuries. Since Brazil’s independence in 1822, international topics have deserved attention from local practitioners and scholars. The emergence of Brazilian standpoints about international affairs and of a Brazilian IR scholarship developed after the consolidation of similar fields in other Western countries. Multiple schools of thought held sway over local understandings, thereby leading to the formation of a different field as compared to characteristics of the Anglo-American mainstream. The institutionalization of the area has come about through the creation of scholarly departments and national government agencies. It all led to a unique combination of methods, theories, and issues being currently explored in the Brazilian branch of IR scholarship.
The growth of research on emotion in international relations (IR) has produced a significant body of literature. This body of literature has raised a number of interesting questions, debates, and theoretical positions regarding the agentic properties of international actors and how they are embedded in international structures. Emotions have long been viewed in IR as self-evident and irrational by-products of cognitive processes and have, until recently, remained largely implicit and undertheorized. The first wave of research lamented the discipline’s neglect and marginalization of emotions in mainstream IR theories and concepts. The second wave has turned to specific ways to integrate the consideration of emotion into existing research within specific issue areas, from diplomacy, security, war, and ethnic conflict to transnational actors, institutions, governance, and conflict management. The literature on this topic is so extensive that many even speak of an “emotional turn.” Its intellectual roots stem from various disciplines, such as psychology, neuroscience, sociology, history, and cultural studies, and this diversity is reflected in ongoing challenges of how to study emotions and their political effects in IR. These challenges relate to a number of ontological and epistemological questions, including how to conceptualize emotions, how to capture emotions methodologically, and how to move from the individual to the collective level of analysis. Whatever divergent claims are made by these scholars, there is by now a firm consensus in the discipline that emotions matter for international and global politics.
Juliana Peixoto Batista
The room for dialogue between international law (IL) and international relations (IR) is vast. Since the emergence of the liberal world order in the 20th century, there is a growing closeness between IL and IR approaches. Latin America played a significant role in this process, helping to shape the liberal world order. Despite the fact that liberal approaches to IR and IL promote the most self-evident interdisciplinary dialogue, there is a growing intersection field in critical approaches to IR and IL that should be further explored, and Latin America also has a role to play in that cross-fertilization process. By analyzing critical approaches, the narrative in both disciplines can be expanded, bringing a Global South perspective to the mainstream debate. How did IL scholars read changes in the international system from the second half of the 20th century? How did IR scholars read changes in the role of IL in the international system at the beginning of the 21st century? What is the role of Latin America and its contribution to these changes? With this in mind, intersection spaces can be revealed where room for conceptual, methodological, and collaborative work can be explored.
The study of neutrality, as an academic subject in the fields of history and the social sciences, is concerned with the politics, laws, ethics, economics, norms, and other social aspects of states and international actors that attempt to maintain friendly or impartial relations with other states who are—or might become—parties to international conflict. In this regard, neutrality studies is a subject of international politics in its broadest sense, encompassing international law and international relations. It is an open space that has been explored through various academic lenses, including (but not limited to) realism, liberalism, constructivism, and poststructuralism. Most neutrality research in the early 21st century is focused on particular periods or forms of neutrality. To discuss this topic, it is helpful to distinguish two levels of analysis. First, there is historical research that describes the observable phenomenon of neutral behavior and its related effects, in other words, specific instances when countries (or actors) remained neutral. This is mostly the domain of historians. The second level is the moral, legal, political, and ideational assessment of neutral situations, which are theoretical discussions that treat issues (including but not limited to) the underlying reasons and the larger impact of neutrality on specific conflict dynamics, security systems, identities, and norms. Ideological debates often occur on this level since theoretical assessments of neutrality depend heavily on the subjective framing of the conflicts they accompany.
Carolina Cepeda-Másmela and Arlene B. Tickner
Assessing the International Relations (IR) discipline in Colombia requires deep description of key aspects related to its genealogy, the nature of its scholars and research, and its community structure. IR in Colombia grew out of practical concerns about the creation of adequate human and institutional resources needed to analyze world affairs and Colombian foreign policy. As the field expanded and consolidated, the IR professoriate became more robust and diverse in terms of thematic and geographical trends in research and increased levels of integration at the national and international levels. Several factors have figured prominently in shaping the discipline in Colombia, including the academic training and professional focus of IR scholars, foreign policy interests of the Colombian state, internationalization processes in academia, financial and institutional constraints on research, and patterns of interaction between scholars and policy makers. IR studies in Colombia have not been thoroughly explored, and broad description both allows for a preliminary explanation of their general character and highlights the need for greater reflection about the field’s evolution, shape, and challenges.
The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.
Max Abrahms and Joseph Mroszczyk
Within political science, the strategic model is the dominant paradigm for understanding terrorism. The strategic model of terrorism posits that people turn to terrorism because of its effectiveness in pressuring government concessions. The strategic model Is a specific type of rational actor model with intellectual roots in bargaining theory, which emphasizes in the field of international relations how violence enhances the credibility of threats under anarchy, elevating the odds of government compliance. The strategic model is stronger theoretically than empirically. Terrorism indeed enhances the credibility of threats by demonstrating that nonstate actors possess the will and means to inflict physical pain for political noncompliance. Under anarchy, targets cannot otherwise be certain that aggrieved nonstate actors have the ability and intent to impose physical costs for maintaining the political status quo; the use of terrorist violence against civilians enhances the credibility of the threat by leaving no doubt that withholding concessions to the perpetrators will be costly. Although terrorism enhances the credibility of the threat under anarchy, the empirical record demonstrates that terrorist violence is generally ineffective—even counterproductive—at coercing government concessions. Not only is terrorism highly correlated with political failure, but this form of violence appears to lower the likelihood of government compliance, often by empowering hardliners most opposed to political accommodation. This finding holds across a variety of methodological approaches, raising questions about why terrorism underperforms as a coercive tactic despite enhancing the credibility of nonstate threats.
Rashed Uz Zaman and Lailufar Yasmin
The discipline of International Relations (IR) started its journey in 1919, to understand why wars occur, reflecting the concerns arising out of World War I. The origin of the discipline thus has carried a Western bias since its inception and often remained oblivious to investigate the concerns of non-Western countries. In this context, the aim is to locate the centers of learning about the development of institutional IR in South Asia, by probing into the academic development of IR in different countries of the region. While doing so, it is necessary to emphasize how the concept of “international” emerged in South Asia much before the ideas of international relations in modern sense made their ways in the region. While there is a rich heritage of “international” in South Asia, the modern statehood often juggled between the old and the new. The institutional development shows that South Asian IR, despite a rise in local contribution to global IR, still yearns to follow Western path in educating about IR. The investigations on South Asian IR and its institutional set ups take two broad views into concern. First, it elaborates on the root and the expanse of the idea of “international” indigenously prior to the idea of modern statehood penetrated South Asia. This discussion also highlights on how the region building itself has gone through transformation and finally the political region emerged through institutionalization of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The institutional expanse of IR in South Asia, its rise, location and development of IR in different countries of the region are worth a serious study. It should be noted here that the first institutional beginning of IR took place in modern day Bangladesh, established by the British colonial ruler in 1947, right before the partition of the subcontinent. However, one must take into account of the trend in South Asian IR of how the concept of “international” is imbued in the teaching and research of IR. In the case of Afghanistan, very few academic resources are available to ascertain if this is the case, like in other South Asian countries. Bhutan is seeing a development in the understanding of “international” as well as expanding on research in this area except it has not institutionalized the study of IR like other South Asian countries. The discussion concludes by arguing that while South Asian IR has made its distinct contribution in developing IR as a discipline, it is yet to create its own foothold as it is influenced by Western traditions in its teachings.
Thierry Balzacq and Mark Corcoral
Grand strategy offers an effective framework to understand and explain how and why a state interacts with other actors in a given way and how it combines various military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural instruments to achieve its ends in a largely coherent fashion. Yet, the term “grand strategy” conjures different meanings and attitudes, with some treating it as synonymous with strategy and foreign policy, thus raising questions about its relations with policy and politics. History teaches us that grand strategy remains a demanding enterprise, partly because of actors’ differential status and partly because its time horizon (mid to long term) subjects it to unforeseen conditions that threaten to derail it. However, does this make grand strategy impossible? Modern grand strategic scholarship is studded with tensions, but this must not eclipse research advances. In fact, the more disconnected controversies are from empirical contexts, the more they tend to become ends unto themselves. The first controversy relates to the definition of grand strategy and the best way to chart its landscape; the second deals with the sources of grand strategy (internal vs. external, material vs. ideational); and the third revolves around the feasibility of grand strategy in a capricious and fast-paced environment. These tensions are both defining, in the sense that they outline the state of the field, and productive, as they point toward future research avenues.