Category Archives: Introduction

The State of Relations International – Changes Afoot!

Dear Readers,

I have been a terrible lead blogger over the last year. Terrible. I’d understand it if you didn’t read this post because you’ve forgotten Relations International except for the great posts that Brandon and Patrick have made in my absence. I’m hoping, though, now that you’re reading this post, you’ll keep reading, because 2017 will be a better year for Relations International than 2016 was. Here are some reasons why, in order of importance:

  1. The addition of Patrick Thaddeus Jackson as a permanent member of Relations International. Patrick and I have been blogging together for a long time, and Patrick is not only a brilliant scholar and an interesting person to talk to and hear from, but his blog posts have a great and unique voice on global politics, popular culture, professional development, and all things worth reading. If you haven’t read is recent posts on Marillion (and progressive rock more generally) and the passing of John Shotter, you should – both are creative, interesting, heart-felt, and well worth the read. Relations International is lucky to have Patrick with us, and looking forward to his contributions! He will definitely be an asset.
  2. My father won’t die this year. For those of you who don’t know, I had spent most of the last couple of years living with and taking care of my ailing father. It had become my normal, and I was writing from, blogging from, and even teaching from his house and his location. Both the last few months of his life in the Spring and the familial circumstances that surrounded his passing made it impossible for me not only to do this but really to do any work at all except around the margins. I miss my father every day, and will always – but am truly humbled by how much a confluence of circumstances around that disrupted my professional life. Relations International, which I have almost completely neglected for most of this year, has been one of the biggest casualties. But its been dormant, not dead – and almost every conference I go to, someone tells me something that they like about the posts here. So that makes it worth pursuing, now that I can. Expect a new set of posts from me, including but not limited to another series of posts, adding to series on book publishing, on professional development the hard way, and on feminist IR 101. This series will be called “TIFU” (inspired by the subreddit of the same name), and will talk about the good reasons for discussing and thinking about particular academic failures, both in terms of the quality (or correctness) of scholarship and in terms of professional development.
  3. Donald Trump won’t get elected in 2017. Ok, this one is mostly tongue-in-cheek, because he will most likely become president in 2017, and that is actually much worse than him getting elected. But, actually, I had trouble finding something to say about it, and about politics when it was happening. Unlike many others, I knew it was going to happen. And I couldn’t talk about it then. I don’t know if it was a lucky guess or my finger on the pulse of American politics; but since I’m writing this, I’m going with the latter. But even I was surprised by the sudden change in everyday micropolitics that came with it – the different ways that it felt to interact with local law enforcement, local politics, etc. That pulse that I (think I had) picked up on subtly in the undertones became acceptable, ok, everyday in a very visceral way that felt very dangerous to many of the people I know and love (but discernibly not to me) and I didn’t (and still don’t) have something to say about that. But more than a month later, I feel like maybe I can talk about other stuff. Maybe. 🙂

In all seriousness, to our faithful readers who have put up with our sporadic nature, we’re going to do better. To those who could be tempted to return, give Relations International another shot. To those who are new here, most of our posts don’t talk about death or fascism. And when they do, they’re interesting. Give us a try and see how it goes!

What Blogging Can Do for You

It should go without saying that blogging is an important and beneficial part of the academic landscape.  The problem is that we still need to have these conversations.  Some don’t see the benefits of blogging (the whole ISA debacle reinforces that idea), while others see this avenue as a distraction.  In this piece, my first for RelationsInternational, I just want to highlight the benefits of blogging, which might not be obvious to some.  I also want to encourage you to think about submitting to RelationsInternational if you are interested in speaking to the larger International Relations community and think you have the chops to blog (handy link here and above).  we want

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Welcome to Relations International. This is developing into a new blog in International Relations (IR), addressing topics of global politics and the study of global politics, broadly defined. In the coming days, the contributors will be introducing themselves, and the blog will be getting off the ground.

Relations International is meant to share many of the properties of IR blogs that have existed in the past – drawing on a broad-based group of contributors that come from a wide variety of perspectives, including but not limited to different theoretical perspectives, different career stages, different locations (both geographically and in terms of the scholar/practitioner divide), addressing current events, discussing debates in the field, and suggesting interesting cross-fertilizations with other blogs, journals, and the like.

That said, Relations International is also being constructed with an aim to distinguish itself from other IR blogs in a couple of ways. First, it is meant to have a (broad-based) emphasis on relations – that is, on interactions – both in global politics and in the discipline of IR. Second, it takes a particular perspective on the value of a group blog, and the responsibility of its contributors for its content. In constructing this blog at a particular moment in the history of blogging in the discipline, I am aware of the perils of a group blog and the question of responsibility for the content of some posters by other posters, especially in my particular position as an editor of a journal of the International Studies Association (ISA). While I will discuss those issues in more detail in a future post, it is my goal that Relations International be largely though not entirely unedited – where the editing, if necessary, will be in service of a goal that the bloggers share together – making Relations International a safe place for people of all sexes, genders, sexual orientations, national origins, races, and ethnicities to discuss both global politics and the enterprise of studying it. I do not see these as at odds with free speech and free expression, and I look to construct an atmosphere which is one of vigorous debate with respect and decorum. Let me/us know if you want to be a part of this effort and/or have any suggestions for how it works.