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Call for Papers - Global Histories of International Thought and Geopolitical Concepts

RUG-NUPI Research Workshop in the History and Theory of International Relations
29 November 2023

Date: 23-24 May 2024
Location: University of Groningen
Deadline: 15 February 2024

Keynote speaker: Prof. Lucian Ashworth

Much is said of geopolitics, but little is understood about its conceptual history. Everywhere, we are told of a world of climate crises, of Sino-American rivalry and a revanchist Russia, of post-pandemic recession and ‘green’ industrial transitions, demanding of great depths of geopolitical shrewdness. Indeed, even in the European Union, where once much was made of ‘normative power’, many invoke the ‘birth of a geopolitical Europe’ (Borell, 2022), whereas others warn of how a ‘return of geopolitics’ may hold sinister continuities with a sinister legacy of nationalist and colonial worldmaking (Guzzini, 2012).

And yet, even as ‘geopolitics’ regains popularity as an explanatory frame for international politics, only cursory accounts are given of its global histories in international thought. In recent years, however, scholars have begun to make way for a more historically accurate and pluralist account of geopolitical visions in the history of international thought and conceptual history (Ashworth, 2013; Rosenboim, 2017; Specter, 2022). This new field of literature, most lively among international relations scholars, has garnered fruitful dialogue with other social sciences and humanities disciplines, including geography, history, cultural studies, and science and technology studies (c.f. Kearns, 2009; Tang, 2008). These emerging literatures, moreover, have explored fascinating intersections with new research on the genealogies of the Anthropocene (Bashford 2014, Selcer, 2018), past technopolitical futurisms (Ekbladh, 2011; Saraiva, 2018; Bell, 2022), as well as non-western, dissident, and anticolonial worldviews (Aydin 2017, Kapila and Bayly 2010, Getachew, 2019). Combined, these interdisciplinary strands invite bold new thinking on how shared geopolitical imaginations have expressed and shaped worldmaking visions of planetary crisis and reform.

This two-day research workshop will explore new global intellectual histories of geopolitical thought, with a special focus on figures outside the traditional canon and crises of environmental, technological, and international orders from the 1890s to 1960s. We invite submissions from early career and senior scholars in international relations, history, geography and related disciplines.

Proposed papers may wish to speak to themes such as:

  • Anticolonial worldmaking and subaltern geopolitics in Africa and Asia
  • Latin American visions of Pan-Americanism and geopolitics
  • Geopolitical imaginations of European unification and the ends of Empire
  • Geopolitical concepts, Pan-Islamism, and Pan-Arabism
  • Global environmental crises and geopolitical concepts
  • Techno-futurism and its imagined geopolitics
  • Socialist and dissident geopolitical concepts

To apply to participate, please send a 250 words abstract and CV to before February 15th 2024.

Successful applications will be notified by March 15th 2024. Short draft papers will be circulated prior to the workshop and publication plans discussed afterward.

Last modified:29 November 2023 11.08 a.m.

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