News

Who still wants to be a historical sociologist?

This article was published on

Historical Sociology in IR Working Group - 2021 workshop CFP

Is it time to ask again what the role of Historical Sociology in IR is? Or, perhaps, who is it for and for what purpose? For decades now we have been cultivating the critical tradition of Historical Sociology with a particular focus on its various international implications. In doing so, we mobilised and engaged with historical analyses of the Global Political Economy and Geopolitics. With the flourishing of other critical-historical traditions within the discipline, notably global and international history, but also the mobilisation of historicism by gender and queer theory, feminist literature, post- and decolonial theories, legal history, political ecology, Black Marxist thought and critical race theory, we believe it is necessary again to reflect on why we maintain this epistemological framework and what it adds to our research, and perhaps also to our teaching. 

To do so, recent scholarship suggests being more explicit about questions of methodology, while others go beyond the boundaries of IR and build on more anthropological, geographical, and sociological resources shifting further away from terracentric and Eurocentric concerns. For others, the classic debates on the state, the ‘West’, and the expansion of capitalism remain central and maintain questions of agency and structure at the forefront of how to define HSIR. Among this plethora of research directions, we need to take stock of whether, and how, the sociological and historical should combine today to provide an alternative - or perhaps a meta-approach - to IR. Moreover, has there been enough discussion of the range of new critical approaches in HSIR? Has their acknowledgement and discussion helped improve the lack of diversity and the lack of reflection on the historical conditions of HSIR’s classic research tradition - based on white male, continental European thinkers, notably Marx and Weber? 

The proposed workshop hopes to gather submissions reflecting on these questions and will aim to do some critical self-reflection and soul-searching by interrogating the state of the art in HSIR, its relation to the ongoing debates in historical IR more broadly, and whether there is a need to revive and reform the tradition, by celebrating its recent contributions, and assessing its lacunae. 

Please submit abstracts of 250 words max to hsir.group@bisa.ac.uk by 15 March 2021.

The workshop will take place online on 13-14 May 2021. 

Decisions regarding abstracts and further details re format will be communicated by 1 April 2021 or soon thereafter. Please note that we will look to prioritise submissions by people who would usually not be able to or have difficulties attending in person, so please specify if this applies to you. 

Please note that BISA working group workshops are now open to non-BISA members but they need to pay a fee to attend individual events:

For virtual events:  1-panel event (up to 2 hours) – Standard non-member £13, Student/ECR non-member £10. Half-day event – Standard non-member £28, Student/ECR non-member - £18

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Dr Clemens Hoffmann and Dr Maïa Pal (co-convenors of the BISA HSIR working group)