This book offers readers an alternative history of the origins of the discipline of International Relations. Conventional, western histories of the discipline point to 1919 as the year of the ‘birth of the discipline’ with two seminal initiatives – setting up of the first Chair of IR at Aberystwyth and the founding of the Institute of International Relations on the side-lines of the Paris Peace Conference. From these events, International Relations is argued to have been established as a path to create peace in the post-War era and facilitated through a scientific study of international affairs. International Relations was therefore, both a field of study and knowledge production and a plan of action.
This path breaking book challenges these claims by presenting an alternative narrative of InternationalRelations. In this book, we make three interconnected arguments. First, we argue that the natal moment in the founding of IR is not World War I – as is generally believed – but the Anglo Boer War. Second, we argue that the ideas, methods and institutions that led to the making of IR were first thrashed out in South Africa – in Johannesburg, in fact. Finally, this South African genealogy of IR, we show in the book, allows us to properly investigate the emergence of academic IR at the interstices of race, Empire and science.
The book was awarded the 2021 Francesco Guicciardini Prize, given annually for the best book in historical International Relations by the International Studies Association.
Join the discussion with the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, the authors Dr Vineet Thakur and Professor Peter Vale, as well as the discussant, Dr Sithembile Mbete (Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria).
Date: 19 May 2021
Time: 14:00 – 15:30