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Call for Papers – Recovering the Middle East in/from International Relations (EWIS Workshop)

by Cemal Burak Tansel on December 6, 2016
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Recovering the Middle East in/from International Relations

Call for papers for a workshop to be organised as part of the 4th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS), 7–10 June 2017, Cardiff.

Despite the manifest importance of the Middle East for global politics, the region has endured an uneven relationship with the discipline of International Relations (IR). While IR scholarship continually discusses Middle Eastern politics, it often does so in ways that carefully selected examples from Middle Eastern states, societies and cultures are employed to test hypotheses and substantiate theoretical premises. These fragmented cases are frequently developed from within Western (White), Anglophone academia based on little sustained exposure to the region’s dynamics. Simultaneously, the attempts that are made to explain and understand these dynamics are often framed within theoretical perspectives that regard such processes as the ramifications of developments happening elsewhere, thus minimising the role of actors and processes operating within the region. These shortcomings have further intensified since the Arab Uprisings, which revealed the deficiencies of many approaches and concepts that are utilised in the study of the Middle East.

The workshop thus aims to address the unstable relationship between IR and one of its core field of study, the Middle East, by examining relevant conceptual and methodological issues. It will provide a platform to discuss the ways in which Middle Eastern intellectuals, social movements and scholars themselves approach the questions of international relations, and examine how we can reshape IR’s engagement with the Middle East. We aim to promote discussions on how the IR literature can learn from the advances in other branches of the social sciences and humanities. To this end, we particularly encourage submissions and contributions from those who work in the Middle East.

Possible themes and research puzzles we would like explore in the workshop include, but are not limited to:

  • How do the Middle Eastern intellectuals, social movements and scholars approach the questions of ‘the international’ and the region’s position in the international political and economic order? What key insights we can learn from their perspectives to reshape IR’s engagement with the Middle East?
  • What can the IR literature on the Middle East learn from the advances in other branches of the social sciences and humanities? How can we develop concrete interdisciplinary strategies and research pathways to strengthen IR scholarship on the Middle East?
  • Given their significant role in highlighting the questions of Eurocentrism and non-Western agency in IR, how do Marxist and postcolonial critiques fare in the study of the Middle East?
  • In light of the recent ‘end of IR theory’ debates, can ‘grand theory’ still provide useful avenues with which to theorise the international and domestic politics of the Middle East?
  • To what extent do the ‘rules of academic production’—such as editorial policies of IR journals—lead scholarship away from an in-depth engagement with the social realities of the Middle East and towards ‘grand theory’?
  • What are the structural issues limiting IR as a discipline to study the Middle East? Is IR as a discipline that was born into and continuously accused of being an ongoing ‘imperial’ project the best way of understanding its relationship with the Middle East?
  • Has IR as an epistemic community and preoccupied with understanding broader connections and global relations lost its own connection to the historical and social specificities of the Middle East?
  • What are the prospects for and limits of the calls for ‘peripheral’ and ‘home-grown theorising’ for equipping IR with theoretical apparatuses capable of identifying and explaining regional dynamics?

Please submit your proposals (200 words or less) via the Conftool electronic submission system and send a copy of your abstract to the workshop conveners  Dr Cemal Burak Tansel and Dr Clemens Hoffmann by 30 December 2016. Successful participants will be informed by January 20, 2017.

For more information, please visit the EWIS 2017 website.

Cemal Burak Tansel
Cemal Burak Tansel is Anniversary Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. He is the editor of States of Discipline: Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017) and has published peer-reviewed research articles in the European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies and Journal of International Relations and Development.
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