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Call for Papers – Marxism and International Relations Theory: Quo Vadis?

by Cemal Burak Tansel on December 3, 2014

Marxism and International Relations Theory: Quo Vadis?

Call for papers for the 9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, 23–26 September 2015, Giardini Naxos, Italy.

Marxist thought, along with other dissident approaches, has long constituted a critical source from which crucial interventions into the mainstream theorising in International Relations (IR) have been launched. While in recent years, significant theoretical contributions—ranging from the discussions of ‘new imperialism’ to uneven development and financialisation—have reinforced Marxist frameworks with a broader analytical palette, the disciplinary position of ‘Marxist IR’ as a sub-configuration of IR theory has been challenged by a number of internal critics. Contesting the status of Marxist IR as an antidote to the shortcomings of the mainstream approaches, these sympathetic critics have argued that Marxist IR has failed ‘to develop any adequate critical theory of the political’ (Davenport 2013: 28) and is need of ‘a realist moment’ to bolster its explanatory power (Callinicos 2007: 542). Similarly, some of the most important recent attempts at theorising ‘the international’ have been shaped by a tendency to engage with and adopt the parameters in which neorealism defines the conditions for a unified international theory (Rosenberg 2013). Others, while recognising the contributions of the strong infusion between Marxist IR and historical sociology, have challenged the tendency to focus ‘on the importance in and of themselves of the historical antecedents of contemporary societies’ and tasked the scholars with interrogating ‘the way in which contemporary societies bear the imprint of such historical developments’ (Bruff 2010: 621).

The panel aims to provide a space to engage with these issues, take stock with contemporary theorising in Marxist IR and discuss new research avenues. Possible topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of the Marxist critique in IR and the relationship between Marxism and the mainstream approaches.
  • The promises and limits of the emergent theoretical developments in Marxist IR, such as Political Marxism, Marxist Geopolitics and Uneven and Combined Development.
  • The interactions between Marxism(s) and feminist, postcolonial and anarchist approaches in IR.

Please submit your abstracts (max. 300 words) to Sébastien Rioux ( and Cemal Burak Tansel ( by 14 January 2015.

For more information, please visit


  • Bruff, I. (2010) ‘European Varieties of Capitalism and the International’, European Journal of International Relations, 16(4): 615–638.
  • Callinicos, A. (2007) ‘Does Capitalism Need the State System?’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 20(4): 533–549.
  • Davenport, A. (2013) ‘Marxism in IR: Condemned to a Realist Fate?’, European Journal of International Relations, 19(1): 27–48.
  • Rosenberg, J. (2013) ‘Kenneth Waltz and Leon Trotsky: Anarchy in the Mirror of Uneven and Combined Development’, International Politics, 50(2): 183–230.
Cemal Burak Tansel
Cemal Burak Tansel is Lecturer in International 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, New Political Economy, Review of International Studies, Globalizations, South European Society and Politics and The South Atlantic Quarterly.
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