03/2018 6. International Relations Scholarship at 100: Publicism, Truth-Pluralism and the Usefulness Problem – Nicholas Michelsen


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Abstract: Revisionist studies have shown that stories about International Relations’ (IR) supposed disciplinary birth in 1919 function to obfuscate the history of international thought. 1919 has nonetheless cast a long shadow over how the usefulness of professional scholarship in International Relations has been conceptualised. In this article, I trace how the 1919 birth- story orientated disciplinary constructions of the usefulness of the field as they relate to plu- ralist approaches to truth-seeking in IR. I argue that the centenary of 1919 reminds us of the publicist as well as pluralist scholarship of the inter-war years. Our discipline’s supposed centenary should therefore foster a drive towards better communication with global IR’s publics and, in this way, ensure that we are better equipped to deal with the so-called post- truth era.

Image: Posters for Grand Illusion, currently out of print from the Criterion Collection - see http://www.bldgblog.com/2012/02/a-prison-camp-is-for-escaping-grand-illusion-1937/