NICHOLAS MICHELSEN – International Relations Scholarship at 100: Publicism, Truth-Pluralism and the Usefulness Problem


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