Many scholars have addressed the relevance of thinking on processes, actors, ideas, and institutions that marked the development of International Relations (IR) in order to understand the way, it is studied and taught in modern times. As such, examining the constitution of the IR field in Argentina carries a twofold objective. Primarily, an in-depth study on the origins of the field in Argentina from a historical perspective brings to light how the field’s historical trajectory marked its development in modern times. Underlining the specific theoretical and methodological endeavors of Argentine IR allows researchers to establish how the field managed to gain density and gradually establish its own boundaries among other disciplines such as international law, diplomacy, geopolitics, political economy, and foreign policy analysis. Identifying the contributions of the Argentine IR field to a more universal and inclusive IR study allows for the definition of a broader non-Western IR agenda. Following Bourdieu’s study on scientific fields, this work answers the question of how the field has been shaped, and how the historical process of autonomization and internal differentiation that has allowed the discipline to legitimize itself as such in Argentina was shaped. From the observation and analysis of a number of components, it addresses the way its subject of study was outlined, through the contributions of agents of knowledge production and the areas of specialized knowledge involved in the process. The period carved out for analysis goes back to 1889, with the First Pan-American Conference in Washington DC, which triggered intense public debate in the country on how to participate in world affairs. The period of analysis ends in 1990, when the IR discipline was clearly considered an autonomous field of study. This temporal selection does not imply that the work follows a chronological and lineal path. Instead, it will consider and flesh out the “strong moments” of the complex, multidimensional, and nonlinear process of institutionalization of a field. As a result, it is possible to identify different arenas of struggle, where various forces are opposed in seeking internal legitimacy. Understanding these spaces as part of an internal struggle does not imply a tacit confrontation, but more a series of dilemmas that emerge from the process of legitimizing and defining the field.
International Relations as a Discipline in Argentina: Historical Roots and Theoretical Contributions
Historical Theories of International Relations
Joseph MacKay and Christopher David LaRoche
History has provided a site of theoretical inquiry for scholars of International Relations since the discipline’s inception. However, serious and sustained historical inquiry has only returned to the foreground of international studies in the last two decades or so, after a prolonged period of postwar uninterest. How can scholars identify moments or processes of systematic change? Does history have a long run structure or trajectory? Moreover, scholars have begun to take seriously the epistemological problem of historicism. International relations scholarship on history during this period addresses the intersection of theory and history in four broad ways. The first encompasses substantive historical studies that take history as a site of theory building about world politics. Here, accounts of early modern Europe, ancient China, precolonial South Asia, European colonial expansion, and other settings have challenged previous historical narratives that assert or assume linear progress or realist cyclicality alike. A second category follows on the first, comprising a plurality of methodological turns. Here, scholars have developed ways of inquiring into history, ranging across macrohistorical or structural analysis, rationalist accounts of international-system building, relational accounts of international hierarchies, discursive accounts of colonialism and resistance, and others. A third focuses directly on theoretical questions drawn from philosophy of history. These works aim to provide not methods of historical inquiry so much as theoretical tools for thinking philosophically about the historical long run itself. Fourth and finally, scholars of the history of international thought have developed contextualist accounts of the intellectual history of international theory. These approaches rethink how theory interfaces with history by interrogating international thought itself.
The History of International Organization(s)
The emerging discipline of political science recognized international organization as an object of study earlier (i.e., around 1910) than international law, which, through an engagement with League of Nations ideals, began to follow the developments of international organizations (IOs) during the 1920s, and history, which kept its focus on states and war rather than on IOs until the early 2000s. The debate between liberal institutionalism and (dominant after 1945) realism deeply influenced the study of IOs. The engagement of the United States in the United Nations System, however, stimulated further studies of IOs and produced new theoretical orientations that left room for realist factors. The modernization of international relations studies through regime theory eventually removed the need to ask historical questions, resulting in short-term studies of IOs, but new approaches such as constructivism and historical institutionalism contributed to studies of long-term change of IOs and critical junctures in history. The main international relations approach traces the rise of the United Nations System (or, more broadly, IOs) as an instrument of American exceptionalism in the world. This view is being criticized by the paradigmatic turn in the discipline of history in the early 2000s, which has included IOs in its research and relates the creation of IOs to imperial powers, such as the United Kingdom and France, that wanted to safeguard their empires. These historical studies start in 1919 rather than 1945 and question international relations’ Western-centrist universalism by including competing universalisms such as anticolonial nationalism.
The International Politics of Memory
Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .
The Rise of Linear Borders
Since roughly the late 19th century, international borders have generally been characterized by linearity, or the appearance as a series of one-dimensional points, connected by straight lines. Prior to this, various kinds of frontiers existed globally, some of them being more linear than others, but most included some kind of formal ambiguity. International relations (IR) often takes for granted the historical process which brought about the global linearization of borders, culminating in the late 19th century and still ongoing in ocean spaces and in outer space. But because cross-border relations are the main substance of inquiry in IR, many theories and areas of study in IR contain some perspective on that process, at least implicitly.
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.
Human Rights and History
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.
The British Committee and International Society: History and Theory
The British Committee on the Theory of International Politics is generally considered the original core of the “English School.” Equally often, scholars have identified as one of its characteristic elements the importance it attributed to “international society” as a force aimed at enlivening and regulating, as far as possible, power relations between states. The attention it paid to international society is also seen as consistent with the importance the authors of the British Committee attributed to “history” and in particular to the “history of international society” as a means to understand and reconstruct international life in the past and the present. However, the internal history of the British Committee is all too often neglected. Studies concerned with the orientations of the English School have mainly sought to analyze the thinking of this or that author without considering the work of the British Committee as a whole. In other words, scholars have tended to pay little attention to the moment when the British Committee began to examine “international society” and the manner in which it did so. In particular, the achievement of the British Committee discussions during 1961–1962 was important, and it was the beginning of a development of great interest. The various texts, the debates, do not limit themselves to a sort of rich and varied list of the component parts of an “international society.” Instead, they paint an overall picture, and they guarantee an interconnection between the reflections of the individuals and the overall orientation of the Committee. Moreover, they are the critical point of departure for the future development of theory.
Historical Approaches to Security/Strategic Studies
One can treat the terms “security studies” and “strategic studies” as synonymous and as pertaining to the study of the interaction of policy ends with military and other means under conditions of actual or potential conflict. This definition means that security/strategic studies can be a fairly broad field. Moreover, this broadness applies not only to the subject matter of the field, but to its time span as well. The study of strategy is arguably as old as war itself, and certainly far older than the formal establishment of strategic studies as an academic discipline in the aftermath of World War II. In this vein, one may well regard works like those of Thucydides and Clausewitz as belonging to the broad field of strategic/security studies. Although the study of war and strategy would often go hand in hand with military history, from very early times there have appeared treatises on strategy (actually on “the art of war”) that are clearly distinguished from historical treatises and thus from the very beginning set strategic/security studies on a clearly distinct track. Be that as it may, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has always been and still remains a very powerful analytical tool—provided it is handled with the necessary care. Beginning with Thucydides, and continuing with such luminaries as Vegetius, Clausewitz, Delbrück, and Corbett, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has provided the field with some of its most brilliant treatises. This venerable tradition continued after World War I and until well into the Cold War, including historically minded gems such as those by Fuller and Brodie. However, the advent of nuclear weapons and the consequent preoccupation of strategic/security studies with nuclear strategy led by and large to the loss of the field’s earlier historical bearings. Though never completely shelved, the historical approach was relatively subdued. It began to stage a comeback during the 1970s, aided by scholars like Howard, Luttwak, and Gray and further bolstered by the renewed interest in classical strategic theory. The end of the Cold War found the historical approach in terrific shape. Thus, not only does it once again tap the huge reservoir of ancient history, but it has also harnessed the newly available tools of quantitative research and the academic rigor of the social sciences. Since the end of the Cold War has definitely not brought about the end of history and the obsolescence of historical experience, it seems safe to conclude that the historical approach to strategic/security studies will fully retain its validity well into the 21st century.
Three Traditions of International Theory
The English School conceived “international theory” as a way to approach the political philosophy and political speculation by examining historical traditions of international relations. The starting point for this line of inquiry was to organize the wide range of material contained in the history of ideas about international politics into a much simpler, and thus more intelligible, scheme, in the event comprising three traditions. Martin Wight called them realism, rationalism, and revolutionism, but they are also known as Hobbesianism (or Machiavellianism), Grotianism, and Kantianism. The fundamental difference between the three traditions is that each represents an idea of what international society is, from which they derive various propositions about more specific topics such as how to deal with peoples from different cultures, how to conduct diplomacy and wage war, or what obligations under international law are. For realists, international society is the state of nature, and since they see the state of nature as a state of war, the answer to the question “What is international society?” is “nothing.” Rationalists agree that international society is the state of nature, but for them it is a state of “goodwill, mutual assistance and preservation,” and so “international society is a true society, but institutionally deficient; lacking a common superior or judiciary.” Revolutionists, by contrast, reject the analogy with the state of nature. Instead, they have an immanent conception of international society, in the sense that they look beyond the apparent or present reality of a society of sovereign states and see behind it a true international society in the form of a community of mankind. Ultimately, these three traditions has exercised a profound influence on the ways in which international relations scholars think about the history of ideas.
International Law and World Order: Theoretical Perspectives
Dennis R. Schmidt
Debates about the nature and role of international law have preoccupied international relations (IR) scholars since the inception of the discipline. They involve some of the most fundamental questions about the theory and practice of world order: to what extent is IR a rule-based activity? How do rules and institutions emerge and function under conditions of anarchy and power competition? What effects, if any, does law have on the behavior, interests, and identities of global actors? One way of developing and organizing answers to these questions is through theoretical investigation. Each of the discipline’s main theoretical approaches makes arguments about the role of law in the construction and maintenance of the processes and patterns that constitute political order at the global level. Structural realists such as Kenneth Waltz largely dismissed international law as an epiphenomenon to power politics and security competition. Rational institutional literature emerging in the 1980s developed a more nuanced picture, highlighting law’s role in fostering order and cooperation among sovereign states. Contemporary constructivist approaches go one step further and acknowledge law’s centrality for understanding patterns and processes of social ordering, while critical scholarship, including Third World approaches to international law, focuses on revealing and challenging the structures that underpin the formation and operation of law in a stratified global order marked by legacies of colonialism and economic and political inequalities. Some of those theoretical claims are related to and derived from historical analysis, and there now is a recognizable, interdisciplinary move among historians, IR scholars, political theorists, and international lawyers to engage with the role of law in the historical evolution of world order.
Modern Grand Strategic Studies: Research Advances and Controversies
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.
The Expansion of International Society
Daniel M. Green
The English School of international relations theory has its own particular account of the history of international relations, a key aspect of which is the expansion of a set of norms, practices and institutions—diplomacy, embassies, international law, sovereignty, the modern state—out of their formative cultural heartland of Europe and to the rest of the world over the past few centuries. This is the story of “European international society” spreading out to become a “global international society,” accelerating especially during the 19th century via cultural imperialism and colonial conquest. The writings of the English School on this Expansion Narrative have evolved since the 1960s, going through phases of development that have concretized the details of the Narrative’s history, elaborated on the processes behind the spread, and attempted to inject more scientific rigor into analysis. Over time a more profound challenge has also emerged, in a revisionist shift from a monocentric story of Europe training the rest of the world in the proper ways of domestic and international life, toward a polycentric, globalization model, in which different civilizations have learned from each other to create a synthetic, multicultural international society by the 21st century. These analytic tensions are a source of creativity and innovation for the English School and set it apart from other approaches to international relations.
Origins and Theory of Climate Change Politics
Loren R. Cass
Climate change politics refers to attempts to define climate change as a physical phenomenon as well as to delineate and predict current and future effects on the environment and broader implications for human affairs as a foundation for political action. Defining the causes, scale, time frame, and consequences of climate change is critical to determining the political response. Given the high stakes involved in both the consequences of climate change and the distributive implications of policies to address it, climate change politics has been and remains highly contentious both within and across countries. Climate politics presents difficulties for study given its interdisciplinary nature and the scientific complexities involved in climate change. Climate change politics emerged in the mid- to late 1980s, as climate science became more accessible to policymakers and the public. However, scholarship on international climate politics was relatively slow to develop. Prior to 2008, major publications on international relations (except for policy journals) only lightly touched upon climate politics. Climate change was frequently referenced in articles on a range of topics, but it was not the primary focus of analysis. Since 2008 there has been a dramatic increase in literature focusing on climate change. The possibility of massive economic, political, and ecological dislocation from the consequences of climate change as well as from policies to address the problem have resulted in an extensive literature. Scholars have addressed aspects of climate politics from every paradigm within international relations, as well as drawing on research from numerous related disciplines. The international relations theories that shaped the scholarship on climate politics provide the foundation for understanding the ongoing normative debates surrounding domestic and international policies to address climate change.
Historical Sociology and International Relations: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Large-Scale Historical Change and Global Order
Besnik Pula and Yannis A. Stivachtis
Historical Sociology (HS) is a subfield of sociology studying the structures and processes that have shaped important features of the modern world, including the development of the rational bureaucratic state, the emergence of capitalism, international institutions and trade, transnational forces, revolutions, and warfare. HS differs from other approaches in sociology given its distinction between routine social activities and transformative moments that fundamentally reshape social structures and institutions. Within international relations, the relevance of history in the field’s study has been highly disputed. In fact, mainstream international relations (IR)—Neorealism and Liberalism—has downplayed the importance of history. Nevertheless, World History (WH) and HS have exercised a significant degree of influence over certain theoretical approaches to the study of international relations. The history of HS can be traced back to the Enlightenment period and the belief that it was possible to improve the human condition by unmaking and remaking human institutions. HS was then taken up by a second wave of historical sociologists who were asking questions about political power and the state, paving the way for greater engagement between IR and sociology. Third wave HS, meanwhile, emerged from a questioning of received theoretical paradigms, and was thus characterized by theoretical and methodological revisions, but only minor and incremental changes to the research agenda of second wave Historical Sociology.
International Relations and the Study of History
International relations and history are inextricably linked, and with good reason. This link is centuries old: Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, one of the very earliest and one of the very greatest historical works of all time, is widely regarded as the founding textbook of international relations. Still, those two disciplines are legitimately separate. A somewhat clear boundary between them can probably be drawn around three lines of demarcation: (1) past versus present, (2) idiographic versus nomothetic, and (3) description versus analysis. The utility of history for the analysis of international affairs has been taken for granted since time immemorial. History is said to offer three things to international relations scholars: (1) a ready source of examples, (2) an opportunity to sharpen their theoretical insights, and (3) historical consciousness, that is, an understanding of the historical context of human existence and a corresponding ability to form intelligent judgment about human affairs. This tradition continued well after international relations firmly established itself as a recognized separate discipline some time after World War II, and would remain virtually unchallenged until the 1960s. Since the 1960s, attitudes toward history have diverged within the international relations community. Some approaches, most notably the English school and the world system analysis, have almost by definition thriven on history. History plays a fundamental role in the critical-constructivist approach, while realist scholars continue to draw regularly on history. History is far less popular, though not absent from works belonging to the liberal-idealist approach. Postmodernism is the one approach that is almost completely antithetical to the analytical use of history. Postmodernists have characterized history as merely another form of fiction and question the existence of objective truth and transhistorical knowledge. One cannot exclude the possibility that postmodernism is correct in this respect; however, it is highly unlikely that uncountable generations of people have been victims of mass deception or mass psychosis regarding the utility of history, not least in the analysis of international relations.
World System History
Robert A. Denemark
World system history is a perspective on the global sociopolitical and economic system with a structural, long-term and transdisciplinary nature. The intellectual origins of the study of world system history can be characterized by three general trajectories, beginning with the work of global historians who have worked to write a “history of the world.” Attempts were also made by scholars such as Arnold Toynbee to write global history in terms of “civilizations”. A second pillar of world system history emerged from anthropology, when many historians of the ancient world, anthropologists, and archaeologists denied the importance of long-distance relations, especially those of trade. A third pillar emerged from the social sciences, including political science and sociology. One of the central ideas put forward was that sociopolitical and economic phenomena exhibited wave-like behavior. These various intellectual strands became self-consciously intertwined in the later 1980s and 1990s, when scholars from all of these traditions began to cross disciplinary boundaries and organize their own efforts under the rubric of world system history. This period saw Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills questioning the value of identifying a uniquely modern system based on a transition to capitalism that was said to have occurred in the West. Frank and Gills introduced the “continuity hypothesis,” which suggests that too much scholarly emphasis has been placed on the search for and elucidation of discontinuities and transitions. World system history faces two important challenges from determinism and indeterminacy, and future research should especially address the implications of the latter.
Middle East Foreign Policy
The scholarly literature on Middle Eastern foreign policies has long treated the region as a pawn in the larger game of the great powers’ international rivalry for global supremacy. During the Cold War, Middle Eastern foreign policies were seen in terms of East-West confrontation, or as a replica of Western foreign policies. Over time, more sophisticated theories of Middle Eastern foreign policy have emerged. Two of the earliest theories that were applied to the study of Middle Eastern foreign policies were diplomatic political history and psychological approaches. Some scholars argue that the behavior of Middle Eastern states is reflective of some of the basic premises of the realist theory. Others, adopting a neorealist structural approach, contend that while Middle Eastern states may use the language of Islam and Pan-Arabism, power politics still lies at the core of their foreign policy. These scholars consider the shift in the regional and the global balance of power as the major explanatory factors for understanding foreign policy changes in the Middle East. Then there are those who conceptualize Middle Eastern foreign policies primarily in terms of dependency theory, the core-periphery power relations, and a struggle for the control of the region's oil and energy. Two other approaches to the study of Middle Eastern foreign policies are international political economy and bureaucratic politics. The Palestinian–Israeli conflict has been a major polarizing issue responsible for radicalization of regional politics and foreign policies in the Middle East.
The Ethics of Torture: Definitions, History, and Institutions
International law defines torture as the intentional infliction of intense suffering aimed at forcing someone to reveal information, punishing unwanted behavior or inspiring fear in a broader population. Since torture is banned under any and all circumstances, states go to great lengths to insist that their conduct does not qualify as torture. Officials seek to distance themselves legally and morally from an association with torture by using clean torture techniques that do not leave physical marks and by downplaying the seriousness of their methods, characterizing their interrogation techniques in euphemistic language that makes it possible to practice torture without admitting that they are doing so. Yet even supposedly lesser forms of abuse referred to as torture “lite” can have severe effects when they are employed in combination and for long periods. Fundamentally, torturous acts are designed to break a victim by demonstrating the victim’s utter powerlessness. Historically, torture was not only common in times of war and social upheaval, but it was also openly practiced in many societies as an integral part of the judicial system. Torture was seen as an effective technique for obtaining information as well as an appropriate punishment for the immoral and a useful deterrent against future misconduct. Since the end of World War II, torture has been rejected as a violation of basic human rights and publicly condemned by most countries in the world; international treaties such as the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) require signatory parties to end torture within their territorial jurisdiction and to criminalize all acts of torture. Nonetheless, countries throughout the world continue to engage in ill-treatment and torture, often during times of national stress, when perceived others or out-group members are subjected to extreme interrogation. Although torture is employed by democratic and nondemocratic forms of government alike, empirical studies reveal that political regimes and institutions have a significant impact on the type of torture used and the duration of government support for torture. Effective democratic institutions like a free press and an independent judiciary make it more likely that cases of torture will be exposed and violators punished, and democratic governments with strong mechanisms for holding officials accountable are more likely to transition away from ill-treatment and torture of detainees, at least once violent challenges end. During periods of perceived threat, however, public intolerance of unwanted others makes it likely that democratic publics will condone if not encourage the use of torture against detained transnational terrorism suspects and other dissidents. Under such circumstances, independent judicial institutions may incentivize officials to practice torture more covertly. Non-democratic countries are more likely to flout human rights treaties such as the CAT, signing such agreements as a means of deflecting criticism but continuing to employ torture against dissidents. Even liberal democracies are found to have difficulty complying with certain international human rights treaty obligations, especially when information about violations—as in the case of torture—tends to be hidden. The resulting impunity makes it difficult to put an end to torture.
Economics of International Communication
Stefan H. Fritsch
International information and communication have become central cornerstones for global economic, political, social, and cultural actors, issues, structures, and processes. Accordingly, various social science disciplines have become interested in understanding international communication’s economic properties and also produced empirical evidence demonstrating its remarkable impact on global economic development. Subsequently, the relationship between technological evolution and the evolving economics of international communication has become of central importance to the analysis of international communication. Of particular relevance in this context is digitization’s impact on information and communication technologies and related digital conversion processes of once separated media and business sectors. In this context, the constantly evolving economic and technological properties of international information and communication systems and the economic opportunities and challenges they pose also challenge individuals, business enterprises, states, as well as international organizations to pursue structural and policy changes in order to reap the potential benefits of international information and communication or to address emerging negative side effects.