SEMINAR: The Imperial Discipline: Race and the Founding of International Relations
|The Imperial Discipline: Race and the Founding of International Relations
Disciplinary history defines the identity of a field of research. IR has traditionally told itself that it started in 1919 with the goal of bringing about world peace. This ‘world peace’ though, was far from the utopia we think of when we hear the term today. For the past four years, I have been writing a disciplinary history with Vineet Thakur and Peter Vale which emphasises the imperial margins in the development of IR. The project traced the ideas, institutions and methods associated with the discipline. We argue that some of the key ideas behind the discipline emerged in 19th century South Africa. These ideas then travelled to Australia, Canada, New
Zealand, returned to South Africa anew and, eventually, came to India, spread by a committed network of imperial ideologues. IR’s origins, then, lie partly in the attempt to bring the empire together, to see world affairs the same way, and to better control world order. Racial ideas were central to the debates that took place within this network. This seminar will go through the argument and case studies presented in our forthcoming book The Imperial Discipline: Race and the Founding of International Relations, along with our call for plural, diverse and less US/UKcentred histories of the discipline.
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