Welcome to the BISA Blog


The BISA blog provides a platform for our members to share their research and provides a place for conversation on the latest developments in international studies. The intention is that this should be a space for scholars to communicate new ideas, pedagogical innovation and support other scholars, especially early career researchers.

The blog will also communicate news and additional information from BISA. We hope that it will be able to reach our members in manner that allows for greater interaction with BISA and create a space for communicating the cutting edge ideas and research that are the hallmark of our association.
 
- Professor Richard Whitman, BISA Chair

The PhD & the Powerful: A BISA Post-Graduate Network Workshop

Disparities of power often exist between postgraduate students and the actors they focus on. This holds especially true for international studies, where access to information and subjects is often constrained by state actors able to envelop themselves in numerous, potentially legitimate, restrictions. At the same time, international studies is literally soaked with discussions and definitions of power. Furthermore, from realist debates about great power politics, Weberian ponderings of legitimate force, Foucauldian deliberations inspired by governmentality and biopolitics via the consideration of soft power, such discussions and definitions are as varied as they are predominant.

(Re)Masculinising the world? Thinking about international relations through the logic of masculinism

Christine Agius

Gender has polarised international politics in recent years. As states and international organisations pay increasing attention to gender mainstreaming, or even adopting ‘feminist foreign policies’, there has been a backlash against feminism, with the rise of incels, the Alt-Right and Men’s Rights Movement. The election of populist leaders promising to return the state to ‘traditional’ values and manage security through increasingly coercive measures has seen a ‘feminist spring’ emerge to defend reproductive rights and gender equality. These developments have also been reflected in popular culture, with the popularity of TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale. We appear to be in a period of what Ulf Mellström calls masculinist political revival.

There are many ways we can try to make sense of recent developments. We can examine the rise of populism, the decline of post-war institutions, and the impact of globalisation. But understanding how gender is built into the structure of the global order is crucial for getting a handle on how it affects politics, economics, culture and society at all levels.

The Personal Chemistry of Trust in International Politics

Professor Nicholas Wheeler

In March 1970, the West German Chancellor, Willy Brandt, travelled by train to meet with his East German counterpart, Willi Stoph, in the East German town of Erfurt. Brandt, the architect of the Ostpolitik policy that led to a relaxation of tensions between West Germany and East Germany, believed it was important that leaders ‘get a smell of each other’.Brandt appreciated that personal chemistry matters in international politics and if personal relationships are strong between state leaders, then it is possible to make progress on substantive issues, including, as Brandt and Stoph showed, the de-escalation of conflict between two adversaries. Brand’s intuition is a common one among leaders in adversarial relationships. President Ronald Reagan wrote in his memoir that he had come to believe that if the United States and the Soviet Union were ever ‘going to break down the barriers of mistrust that divided our countries, we had to begin by establishing a personal relationship between the leaders of the two most powerful nations on earth’ (quoted in Wheeler 2018: 1). But if state leaders recognize the potential for personal chemistry arising out of their face-to-face interactions, the discipline of International Relations (IR) has not properly theorized the conditions under which some face-to-face encounters lead to bonding of this kind, and equally importantly, why others lead to disappointment and failure.

Responsibility to Protect implementation in Libya and the State of International Society

Aslihan Turan Zara

Libya’s intervention constitutes an important example and represents an evolution, not only for responsibility to protect (R2P) and the humanitarian intervention, but also for the transformation of the international society. The latter is one of the systemic forms used by the English school scholars to interpret world politics with the international system and the world society. While the international system consists in the interaction among states that constitute it, the world society asks for common values and interests that build a link between members of the human community, where the universality of morality and of rules are essential in the quest of justice and the respect for human rights[i].

Battles for legitimacy: The arrest of a former Prime Minister and what’s next after Malaysia’s historic election

Scott Edwards

Malaysia’s historic election, which saw the first change of government since independence, was met with widespread optimism. Former Prime Minister Najib’s recent arrest for charges related to corruption was also hailed as a vindication for this optimism. While this is justifiable, the arrest and other related events raises questions about just how the new government under Pakatan Harapan (PH – Alliance of Hope) will overcome a plethora of challenges, especially revolving around race and religion.

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