The International Origins of Social and Political Theory

This looks like it’ll be very interesting:

The International Origins of Social and Political Theory

What is the relationship between history and theory? Much of the time, theory is held to stand outside history. Theoretical systems are applied to, rather than drawn from, historical events. Structural functionalism in sociology, neorealism and neoliberalism in International Relations, and neo-classical economics work in this fashion. The promise of such ‘objective’ theorising is to construct schema that are abstracted from the minutiae of historical events and the agents who enact them.

This special issue of Political Power and Social Theory explores two commitments that stand in opposition to the view that theory inhabits a space distinct from history:

·       First, theory and theorists arise historically. History is an ‘archive’ of events and experiences that leads to theorising, often by practitioners caught up in those very events. Marx was a revolutionary, Clausewitz a soldier, and Freud an analyst. Rather than abstract theory from history, this special issue sees theory as necessarily constituted in and through history.

·      Second, international encounters are productive of theorizing: the discovery of the Americas helped to generate the idea of the ‘state of nature’; transnational practices of commercial capitalism fuelled Adam Smith’s theories of free trade; and Hegel’s dialectic of master and slave could not have been written without the Haitian revolution. Theory and theorists are always located somewhere – and that somewhere is history.

This special issue invites submissions on the various international encounters that have generated social and political theorizing. Although we welcome submissions in the fields of history of ideas/intellectual history, we are particularly interested in how historical events, experiences and practices have shaped theoretical developments.

Those interested in contributing to this special issue should send an abstract (maximum 200 words) to Tarak Barkawi ( and George Lawson ( by 1st July 2015.

We will host a workshop at LSE in Spring 2016 in which papers will be discussed. Those papers selected for the special issue will be sent for review in early Summer 2016. Final submissions will be made to Political Power and Social Theory in September 2016. Publication of the special issue will take place in early 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.