Research at the HTIR revolves around two overlapping fields: modes of reasoning about (global) governance, and the politics of global connectivities. Common to them is a concern with understanding the making of orders of governance as well as advancing and refining traditional and alternative methodological approaches to the study of history and theory of international relations. Methodological expertise across the group includes ethnographic and cultural research (Doortmont), genealogy (Lobo-Guerrero, Herborth, Shim), historical epistemology (Lobo-Guerrero), operative social and political theory (Herborth, Lobo-Guerrero, Shim), and biography (Meijer, Doortmont). Members of the group come from various intellectual traditions and some are influenced and inspired by critical social and political theory, constructivist approaches to global politics, and poststructuralist thought.
Modes of Reasoning about (global) governance
This strand of research focuses on understanding how order is established, maintained and transformed in different historical, geographical and intellectual settings. Although an emphasis is put on the ‘global’ dimension of governance, ideas of globality are not presupposed but interrogated. We raise questions that lead us to explore the rationalities that support current and historical forms of governance very widely conceived.
Past and current projects deal with how different rationalities of governance rely on particular ways of understanding and managing uncertainty through risk (Lobo-Guerrero; how understandings of the ‘West’ are used to articulate contemporary forms of government and rule (Herborth); how pre-modern and modern states in Africa are constituted and governed (Doortmont); how biographical context helps understand the constitution of order (Meijer, Doortmont); and how the visuality-subjectivity nexus that supports forms of global politics is connected to and created by particular practices of looking (Shim).
Connectivity and the creation of spaces of governance
The second strand aims at thinking about connectivity as a relational effect between political, economic, social, cultural, and religious domains. Such interaction materializes into spaces of governance such as political institutions, physical infrastructures, knowledge regimes, populations, markets and visual imaginaries. By allowing ourselves to ‘wonder’ about what constitutes the empirical dimensions of interaction, we detail, analyze and theorize historical and contemporary forms of connectivity. The objective is to bring to the fore the relational character of global politics and critically appraise categories of thought such as the 'global', the 'national' and the 'international'.
Projects on this area explore the politics of imaging space, place and site through, for example, the analysis of satellite imagery as productive of geopolitical imaginations (Shim); the (historical) politics of global seaport connectivities and the use of metaphors for thinking relationality (Lobo-Guerrero); and reflections on connectivity as a category of thought (Lobo-Guerrero, Herborth, Shim). On a more historical basis, projects concentrate on cases of Dutch diplomacy and decolonization in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean providing rich empirical material from which to derive future theorization (Doortmont, Meijer). Particular emphasis is given to the role of persons in pivotal economic and political positions and their worldview in influencing the course(s) of international politics (Meijer, Doortmont), and the idiosyncrasies of local cultures in effecting cultural connectivities as well as the understanding of the state (Doortmont).
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