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Revisionism in International Relations  

Jonathan M. DiCicco and Victor M. Sanchez

International relations analysts often differentiate between status-quo and revisionist states. Revisionist states favor modifications to the prevailing order: its rules and norms, its distribution of goods or benefits, its implicit structure or hierarchy, its social rankings that afford status or recognition, its division of territory among sovereign entities, and more. Analyses of revisionist states’ foreign policies and behaviors have explored sources and types of revisionism, choices of revisionist strategies, the interplay of revisionist and status-quo states, and the prospects for peaceful or violent change in the system. Intuitive but imprecise, the concepts of revisionism and revisionist states often are used without explicit definition, reflective discussion, or rigorous operationalization. For these reasons, efforts to conceptualize and measure revisionism merit special attention. Highlighted works promise to improve understanding of revisionism as a phenomenon, as well as its use in theoretical and empirical analyses of international conflict, war, and the peaceful accommodation of rising powers. Three questions guide the survey. First, who is seeking to revise what? This question opens a foray into the realm of the status quo and its distinct components, particularly in the context of rising and resurgent powers. Second, what is revisionism, and how is it detected or recognized? This question prompts an exploration of the concept and how it is brought to life in scholarly analyses. The third guiding question invites theoretical perspective: How does revisionism help one understand international relations? Provisional answers to that question open avenues for future inquiry.


International Studies as a Discipline and Women’s Status Therein  

Meredith Reid Sarkees and Marie T. Henehan

As a distinct discipline, international studies is relatively young, emerging in the United States only after World War II. The study of the status of women in international studies is also a fairly new field, appearing more recently than that in other fields in academia, including political science. In the United States, political science evolved through at least six distinct phases. The first two phases occurred during the American Revolution and the post-Civil War era, while the next four took place in the twentieth century, described by David Easton as the formal (legal), the traditional (informal or pre-behavioral), the behavioral, and the post-behavioral stages. It was during this period that the study of women in politics began. As political science began to solidify itself as a separate academic discipline at the beginning of the twentieth century, there was also an attempt to include international relations within its domain. Despite the increase in the number of women in international studies and the advances that women have made in publications and positions, the field remains dominated by men. In other words, it is still not an equitable place for women to work. In order to overcome many of these enduring barriers, there should be a greater willingness to investigate and publish more studies about the status of women and to take more proactive steps to resolve the issues that have stalled women’s progress.


Great-Power Competition  

Jonathan M. DiCicco and Tudor A. Onea

Great-power competition (GPC) is a touchstone for strategists and policymakers. Its popularity stems from perceptions of China’s rise, Russia’s resurgence, and the United States’ relative decline. The term’s notoriety in policy circles is related to its use in U.S. national defense and strategy guidance documents. Sometimes GPC is dismissed as a buzzword, but it is a distinctive phenomenon that deserves scholarly investigation. GPC is a classic feature of modern international relations grounded in a traditional power politics approach. Specifically, GPC is a permanent, compulsory, comprehensive, and exclusive contest for supremacy in a region or domain among those states considered to be the major players in the international system. The contest varies in intensity over time and space but remains a persistent aspect of the international system of sovereign states. Great powers field uncommonly large, sophisticated, and diversified capabilities and compete for high stakes; their competitive behavior is endemic to a stratified system in which select states are recognized as having special status. That status imparts to members of the great-power club privileges and responsibilities, including collective action to address system-wide problems. However, the competition over power, security, and status among the great powers is always present. GPC is often parsed into analytically separable dimensions (military, economic, scientific–technological, and so on), but in practice such dimensions are interrelated. Together with the great powers’ extraordinary capabilities and interests, the interdependence of these dimensions of competition tends to push GPC to be comprehensive. GPC is sometimes treated as something other than war, but when GPC intensifies, the possibility of major war looms. Patterns of GPC are identified through the lens of competing schools of thought on power politics: balance of power and hegemonic–power transition. Each provides a general framework in which GPC may be located. Scholars, however, should not confine their investigations to such frameworks; novel scholarship is warranted to further develop the concept of GPC, to characterize it and theorize about its dynamics, to further study it empirically, and to scrutinize it through critical lenses.


Measuring “Success” for Women in International Studies in Academic Settings  

Vicki L. Golich

Success is not easy to define or measure. In the academic field, traditional indicators of success include level of educational attainment, type and place of employment, tenure status, promotion or position status, publication productivity, and compensation. Alternatively, success can be defined as “the achievement of something desired or planned.” This is a more inward-looking definition of success, and adopting it might improve the chances for women to attain recognized success because it rewards what women in higher education and in international studies actually do. Some measures about how to determine success in international studies are more quantifiable than others, such as identifying obstacles women have had to overcome to enter and to thrive within the discipline. Others are controversial, such as self-professed goals that do not align with the traditional success measures. For example, many women—and even men—are simply more concerned with seeking work–life–family balance than the “prestige” of a tenured, full-professor appointment at an Ivy League Institution. Clearly, there is a need to change perceptions about what success means and what a successful life looks like. To this end, the academy in general, and international studies as an academic discipline in particular, should rethink how to evaluate quality teaching, recognize a broader range of research as valuable, and honor all kinds of service. They should also undertake some seriously introspective studies focused on why women’s work in academia remains so undervalued. Such studies must include recommendations for action aimed at rectifying current gender imbalances.


UN, Gender, and Women  

Soumita Basu

After the end of World War II, women’s rights advocates at the United Nations vigorously campaigned for equality between the sexes. At the UN Charter Conference held in San Francisco in 1945, women delegates fought for the recognition of sex-based discrimination as a violation of human rights in Article 1 of the Charter. At the UN, issues relating to women were primarily placed under the purview of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), established in June 1946 with the mandate to “prepare recommendations and report to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.” Three main perspectives underpin feminist International Relations (IR) literature on the UN, gender and women: promoting women’s participation and inclusion of women’s issues at the UN; gender critique of the UN, geared towards institutional transformation; and challenging the universality of the UN. Despite some fundamental differences between these three strands of thinking, their political significance is widely acknowledged in the literature. The co-existence of these contentious viewpoints resonates with the vibrant feminist politics at the UN, and offers a fruitful avenue for envisioning a better intergovernmental organization. This is particularly relevant in light of feminist scholars’ engagement with activism and policymaking at the UN from the very beginning. Nevertheless, there are issues that deserve further consideration, such as the workings of the UN, as reflected in its unique diplomatic characteristics and bureaucratic practices.