Interesting interview with Patricia Owens – author of Between War and Politics: International Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt – at E-IR.
Here’s one especially good part:
Where do you see the most exciting research/debates happening in IR at the moment?
For me, the most exciting research – and most intellectually urgent task for IR – is rethinking the relation between history and theory. The history problem in IR is obvious and well known. There is little understanding of the basics of historical research, such as source interpretation and historical method; the significance of context, temporality, and scale; and how to do good historical writing. It is still more or less openly acknowledged that history is supposed to ‘fill in’ the empirical details for theory, even among those claiming greater historical depth, such as international historical sociologists and members of the English School. Part of the problem is that these approaches are far more sociological than historical. They are excited about the intellectual possibilities of things ‘socio’, but they have ignored the historical origins of distinctly social theorising, of when and why sociological explanations for human affairs first emerged and what this history might reveal. In my view, the dominant international theories are deeply ahistorical and anachronistic in this regard. To use Buzan and Little’s words, IR has failed as an intellectual project. If it’s to be reconstituted, then we need a fundamental rethink of history and theory and the relation between them. How, as non-trained historians, can IR scholars and theorists write convincingly about the past? A form of this question is increasingly being asked at the Sussex Centre for Advanced International Theory (CAIT) and the LSE Research Group on History and Theory.