Recent years have seen renewed interest in historically informed IR scholarship, and a turn to historical materials in the development of IR theory. The rise of constructivism, the reconvening of the English School, and the re-emergence of classical realism exemplify this trend in mainstream IR. Historical sociology, post-colonial approaches, ‘British School’ IPE, and Marxian inspired work speak to the influence of history within critical approaches to the subject. The increasing salience of conceptual history, intellectual history, critical historiography, the history of ideas, and the philosophy of history further fuel these dynamics. To some extent, we are all historians now.
Despite this (re)turn to history, there is little reflection within IR about what type of history is used – and sometimes abused – by theorists. Indeed, relatively little work in IR is explicitly historical. This means that IR scholarship often fails to take seriously issues of context and temporality. At the same time, a reliance on secondary sources means that IR scholarship often regurgitates historical canards, while few researchers attend to issues of source interpretation and historical method. If we are all historians now, it does not follow that we are very good historians.
The section explores the concepts, theories, and images of change that underlie historical accounts of change in IR. It seeks to critically engage questions of how to theorize change: Is there a way to fuse IR accounts of change with those found in global and transnational history? Are accounts of change better read as evolutionary, nonlinear or teleological? Do different historical periods require distinct accounts of change? Can new accounts of change in IR help the discipline to become more ‘global’? How useful is it to see change as bound up with ‘future’-related IR theory?
The deadline for submissions is 1 July 2016. To submit a proposal, please visit the conference website at http://www.wisc2017.org