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Article

The History of International Studies  

Brian C. Schmidt

A significant development in the history of international relations (IR) is the increased focus on historiographical issues. Prior to 1998, the literature had, for the most part, failed to address adequately the question of how to write a history of the field. The tendency was to describe the history of IR as if a complete consensus existed on the essential dimensions of the field’s evolution. However, during the past 10 years (1998–2008) a wealth of new literature has appeared that greatly challenges much of the conventional wisdom regarding the development of IR. Three main thematic issues have been prominent in the literature. The first theme concerns the status of IR as an academic field or discipline. For various reasons, there has been a repeated questioning of whether IR is in fact a distinctive discipline. A second theme is the issue of whether the boundaries of IR should be demarcated in terms of one particular country (the United States) or whether it should be viewed as a more cosmopolitan endeavor without regard to national differences. The third theme involves the historiographical debate about whether the evolution of the field is best explained in terms of exogenous events in the realm of international politics or by endogenous factors associated with the institutional setting of the field.

Article

The Formation of Ethnic and National Identities  

Liah Greenfeld and Nicolas Prevelakis

Nationalism is the worldview of the modern world. It is based on three fundamental principles: it is secular; it sees the members of the community defined as a nation as fundamentally equal; and it presupposes popular sovereignty. Modern ethnicity, that is, ethnic identity, is the result of ethnic nationalism. One can classify nationalisms into three major types: the individualistic-civic type, as seen in England, the United States, and a few other countries, though it remains a minority in the world; the collectivistic-civic type—also a minority; and finally, the collectivistic-ethnic type, which is found in most of the nations in the world. This third and last type is what is usually referred to as “ethnic identity” in the modern world. These types of nationalism seldom exist in their ideal form. Typically, one will find a combination of elements from different types. Their relative importance may vary from one period to another, or within the same period and among different social strata. The case of Greek nationalism illustrates this point. It also represents a clear example of the causal role of nationalism in shaping ethnic identity. The seeds of ethnicity emerged in the first decades of the Greek state, though it was only in the middle of the nineteenth century that Greek nationalism took its definite ethnic form. This evolution can be seen in two areas: the emergence of Greek irredentism, and the construction of Greek historiography.

Article

Human Rights and History  

Micheline Ishay

As a focus of academic inquiry, human rights gained legitimacy only after World War II. While the subject received consistent attention within the field of international law, greater attention from other disciplines became more significant in the mid-1960s. Yet, it was after the Cold War, in the era of globalization, that human rights research became a well-entrenched interdisciplinary field. Even though no encompassing history of human rights was yet to be found in the late twentieth century, many important historical human rights studies had already appeared. Until the Cold War, the study of international relations had been grounded in efforts to integrate political theory and history. As ideological confrontation heightened during the Cold War, history became more descriptive, formalistic, and divorced from political theory, or from any normative or political purpose. With the end of the Cold War, the advance of globalization, the war on terror, and the current meltdown of the global economy, the past 20 years have sent a succession of electric shocks through the nervous system of the international order. The sense of being buffeted by unpredictable events stimulated new efforts to comprehend the direction of history, or, alternatively, to assert its timeless truths. Despite a significant body of enriching historical scholarship, however, it remains the case that both history and historiography have been widely overlooked, not only in the burgeoning human rights academic field, but also in most disciplines within the social sciences.

Article

Teaching International Political Sociology  

Vincent Pouliot

Teaching international political sociology (IPS) is intellectually rewarding yet pedagogically challenging. In the conventional International Relations (IR) curriculum, IPS students have to set aside many of the premises, notions, and models they learned in introductory classes, such as assumptions of instrumental rationality and canonical standards of positivist methodology. Once problematized, these traditional starting points in IR are replaced with a number of new dispositions, some of which are counterintuitive, that allow students to take a fresh look at world politics. In the process, IPS opens many more questions than it provides clear-cut answers, making the approach look very destabilizing for students. The objective of teaching IPS is to sow the seeds of three key dispositions inside students’ minds. First, students must appreciate the fact that social life consists primarily of relations that make the whole bigger than the parts. Second, they must be aware that social action is infused with meanings upon which both cooperative and conflictual relations hinge. Third, they have to develop a degree of reflexivity in order to realize that social science is a social practice just like others, where agents enter in various relations and struggle over the meanings of the world. There are four primary methods of teaching IPS, each with its own merits and limits: induction, ontology, historiography, and classics.