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Evaluate – Whiskey & Worldwide Relations Idea

Whiskey & International Relations Theory
By Patrick Thaddeus Jackson and Daniel Nexon
Podcast, ongoing since 5 February 2020

‘Welcome to Whiskey & Worldwide Relations, the place two middle-aged lecturers drink whiskey and speak about IR concept; it truly is simply what the title says’. That is how episode 9 of the podcast Whiskey & International Relations Theory begins. The podcast is produced by Patrick Thaddeus Jackson and Daniel H. Nexon, two of probably the most prolific students in North American Worldwide Relations (IR) concept. They established the podcast in early 2020 to enrich extra practice-driven IR podcasts, reminiscent of Un-diplomatic, with a theory-oriented different. Nonetheless, the beginning of the podcast turned out to be very well timed for a well known cause: Whereas Whiskey & Worldwide Relations Idea was launched pre-pandemic, episode 3 was already recorded underneath lockdown. Since then, most of our instructing, analysis and life has turned (largely) on-line. Blogs, video calls, on-line seminars and podcasts have grow to be second pores and skin, and have changed into core assets for the transfer to distant training, collaboration and communication. For certain, makes an attempt to ascertain on-line platforms for IR students, college students and practitioners are removed from new – and each Jackson and Nexon have been among the many pioneers within the subject. Nexon, for instance, is the founding father of The Duck of Minerva, which has grow to be one of the vital profitable IR blogs.

For greater than 20 years, each convenors have revealed extensively on IR concept, usually in collaboration. Their joint contributions embody work on relationalism and makes an attempt to map latest developments in IR concept (see, for instance, Jackson and Nexon 1999; 2009). The thought behind Whiskey & Worldwide Relations Idea is to proceed this dialog. The podcast (re)introduces some classical books and articles in IR concept, and supplies a platform for latest debates. Fifteen episodes have been revealed as of February 2021, protecting a various vary of authors and contributions, reminiscent of Kenneth Waltz (ep. 1-2), Cynthia Enloe (ep. 3-4), Alexander Wendt (ep. 5-6), Yaqin Qin (ep. 7-8), John Ruggie (ep. 11), Susan Strange (ep. 12), David Campbell (ep. 13-14), and J. Ann Tickner (ep. 15) in addition to the talk on ‘Race and Securitization Theory’ (ep. 9-10). As addressing all episodes would exceed this quick evaluate, we deal with Jackson and Nexon’s exemplary discussions of 1 monograph – Kenneth Waltz’s Idea of Worldwide Politics – and the advert hoc panel on ‘Race and Securitization Idea’. We imagine these 4 episodes encapsulate nicely the strengths and weaknesses of the podcast in addition to its potentialities to strategy advanced and contentious debates.

Studying from the Previous: Waltz’s Idea of Worldwide Politics

The primary two episodes cowl Kenneth Waltz’s 1979 monograph Theory of International Politics. Why did Jackson and Nexon begin their podcast with Waltz? As they argue at first of the first episode, ‘Waltz is to IR, what Talcott Parsons is to sociology: it’s fairly obscure what occurred within the subject […] with out understanding Idea of Worldwide Politics’ (ep. 1, at 9:40). Nonetheless, regardless of its canonical standing, Waltz’s contribution figures normally as a strawman, and there are literally not so many ‘Waltzians’ within the subject. Furthermore, as Jackson and Nexon claimed in an earlier publication, ‘Waltz’s strategy to concept and theorizing was grossly misunderstood’ (Jackson and Nexon 2013, 15, emphasis within the unique). The podcast due to this fact presents a chance to revisit, reread and reinterpret Idea of Worldwide Politics. After quick and concise lectures on the writer and context of the e-book, Jackson and Nexon rigorously introduce and talk about every of the 9 chapters. It’s right here the place one of many greatest strengths of the podcast performs out as they reconstruct the principle arguments of Waltz in dialogue with one another. Their dialogue operates primarily on the extent of inside critique. Jackson and Nexon search to current a ‘honest’ evaluation of Waltz’s work, together with its flaws and contradictions, but in addition spotlight its contributions to anchoring debates about concept – and the broader philosophy of social science – within the core of IR. Jackson and Nexon do an excellent job in exhibiting how the textual content formed them as students and the sphere of IR extra typically. This self-reflexive dialogue makes the podcast notably attention-grabbing from an academic perspective because it supplies a window into processes behind the revealed article and exhibits how concepts develop and alter over time. The episode then concludes by situating the e-book within the context of more moderen developments in worldwide affairs reminiscent of US-China relations.

Participating with the Current: The Debate on Race and Securitization Idea

The versatile nature of podcasts, with their low manufacturing price, fast turnaround, huge outreach and the potential of inviting different friends and consultants to hitch, make them splendid to interact and take part in ongoing debates. Breaking with their traditional format of discussing classics, episodes 9 and 10 are a superb instance of the medium’s prospects to strategy present points and debates inside IR. Constructed across the dialog between Jackson, Nexon and their three friends Jarrod Hayes, Nawal Mustafa and Robbie Shilliam, the 2 episodes current a well timed and nuanced dialogue and evaluation of the so-called securitization and racism debate. The talk was triggered by an preliminary article in Security Dialogue, accusing securitization concept of being intrinsically racist, and the following replies in the identical journal in addition to fallouts on completely different social media platforms reminiscent of Twitter and Fb. The podcast format permits the dialogue to flee the superficial and limiting 280-character disputes on Twitter, thus offering a refreshing change of tempo. Jackson, Nexon, and their friends are in a position to slowly work by the articles and, maybe extra importantly, have interaction with the underlying discussions and points.

Episode 9 begins with a reconstruction of the talk, highlighting among the core points to assist higher perceive the tensions and fallout. That is then adopted by quick interventions by the three friends, with every one providing additional background by situating the conversations inside wider traditions of thought. That is essential as North American IR concept students seem to not be too accustomed to each securitization concept and significant race concept. Shilliam elaborates on anti-racist thought, specifically on the varied and fractal nature of the Black radical custom and emphasizes the significance of generosity in tutorial debates. Hayes contextualizes securitization concept, together with its try and de-essentialize the idea of safety, and discusses the way it helps us to know constructions of ‘regular’ politics. That is complemented by Mustafa, a former PhD pupil turned anti-racist activist, who displays on the nexus between academia and activism and the danger of depoliticizing Black radical traditions of thought. These contributions permit the podcast to set itself other than what was turning into a really partisan debate. By situating the accusations raised in opposition to securitization concept inside its evolution and wider discussions on race, white supremacy, anti-racist activism, the dialog between Jackson, Nexon, Shilliam, Mustafa and Hayes is ready to transfer past the shortcomings of the preliminary piece and its responses. The interventions suggest and carry out generosity, spotlight the significance of educational requirements and invite us to interact with a much-needed dialog on race and racism inside IR theorizing. But, in addition they level to the tasks of journal editors and the pitfalls and risks of social media in tutorial debates.  

Conclusion: Trying into the Future

In conclusion, Whiskey & Worldwide Relations Idea presents – from the attitude of IR concept – an essential addition to current publication channels. After all, a podcast has its advantages and pitfalls and people should be considered. A podcast ought to neither be seen as a substitute for established channels nor as an answer to all the issues of academia. For example, a radical engagement with the unique texts by studying and in-class dialogue stays important. Sooner or later, with additional proliferation of this format, there may also be the hazard that podcasts with decrease high quality may emerge the place college students may face difficulties in evaluating them. Nonetheless, we imagine that the podcast makes an essential contribution in two regards: addressing the difficulty of canon formation and making IR concept accessible. First, the prime quality of the podcast isn’t solely as a result of well-established interaction between the 2 convenors but in addition to their try and stretch the canon of IR concept. You will need to acknowledge right here that the podcast’s major viewers is positioned inside North American IR. What is perhaps on the margins of North American IR is perhaps extra acknowledged in different elements of the world, and vice versa. But, we nonetheless imagine that the podcast is of curiosity additionally for European and non-Western audiences. Importantly, the query of viewers additionally touches the politics of canon formation within the self-discipline. We concur with the convenors that it’s essential to revisit the classics right here and there.

We additionally agree that IR concept has by now a variety of classics, not solely in what’s normally thought-about as ‘the mainstream’ but in addition inside its extra ‘crucial’ corners. Whereas it would sound promising, notably from a crucial perspective, to depart the classics behind, this may also include the hazard of throwing the infant out with the bathwater and producing a self-discipline with none (free) sense of custom or core as a standard web site for debates. Ultimately, nobody can escape the politics of canon formation – this consists of by now additionally feminist or decolonial thought in IR. Quite, it appears essential to us to replicate on the politics of canon formation and the way each (new) canon excludes and consists of, and produces (new) hierarchies and silences. Lastly, from an academic perspective, we imagine that the podcast with its detailed evaluation and contextualization of the completely different texts mentioned could be very appropriate for hybrid instructing as a result of it supplies a superb introduction to superior theories of Worldwide Relations for each graduate and undergraduate college students. As such, Whiskey & Worldwide Relations Idea additionally presents a major effort to interrupt down the paywall in international training.


Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus, and Daniel H. Nexon. 1999. ‘Relations Earlier than States: Substance, Course of and the Research of World Politics’. European Journal of Worldwide Relations 5 (3): 291–332.

———. 2009. ‘Paradigmatic Faults in Worldwide-Relations Idea’. Worldwide Research Quarterly 53 (4): 907–30.

———. 2013. ‘I Can Has IR Idea?’ The Duck of Minerva Working Paper 1.2013.

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