Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Spring 2019 MALAS Seminar on International Relations with Professor Jonathan Graubart

Seminar on International Relations

Professor Jonathan Graubart

'If there is a body of theory, well tested and verified, that applies to the conduct of foreign affairs or the resolution of domestic or international conflict, it’s existence has been kept a well-guarded secret."
Noam Chomsky, “the Responsibility of Intellectuals.”

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism.”

One useful bit of information you have already learned or will learn soon is that there is no consensus view on what is regarded as proper “Political Science” or proper “International Relations,” though you will likely encounter certain academics convinced that their approach is the only acceptable one. Regrettably, there seems to be an unwritten consensus throughout much of the Political Science discipline that political ideas and historical development are of secondary concern. Focusing on the subfield of International Relations, the beginning Ph.D. student is confronted with a series of leading theoretical approaches within the discipline. These typically feature “Classical Realism,” “Structural Realism,” “Liberalism,” “Neoliberal Institutionalism,” “Constructivism,” and perhaps a few weeks at the end on “IR Feminism,” “Post-Structuralism,” “Post-Colonialism,” and some variant of “Marxism.” To be sure, all of these theoretical approaches have their uses, leaving it to individual discernment on which approach or approaches are most valuable. But the problem with immediately immersing oneself into a specialized academic discipline is that most students have not yet adequately reflected on international politics in general. Lacking sustained exposure to the evolution and nature of world politics and to the contentious struggles that have shaped the global order, one is hardly in position to form second-order disciplinary perspectives on how to study global politics.The aim of this course is to examine closely global politics. Our focus will be on important historical developments and broader normative ideas and struggles that have profoundly shaped modern global politics over the past two centuries. To be sure, this course will not, in itself, give you comprehensive expertise on the gamut of historical events, ideas, and struggles in global politics. But the course will acquaint you with several major themes and provide depth on a few pivotal themes, such as the rise and evolution of modern nationalism and the nation-state. You will then be much better equipped to engage theoretical approaches to International Relations and develop your own normative voice. Moreover, you will gain a more sophisticated perspective on what theoretical and empirical issues most interest.









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