About Interpretivism in International Relations (IIR)

The IIR Working Group seeks to foster methodological debate and innovations in the study of meanings, identities and ideas through various empirical approaches, such as discourse analysis, history and ethnography, and by critically probing the role of theory and concepts in how we interpret an already interpreted world. While this agenda lends itself more readily to hermeneutical and critical approaches and to scholarly work that is sensitive to socio-political context and the positionality of the researcher, the IIR Working Group is epistemologically open. As such, rather than defining ‘interpretivist’ research agendas primarily in contrast to ‘positivism’, the Working Group hopes to foster creative conversations across camps. It also is committed to work that engages public policy debates and demonstrates the value of interpretive approaches to practitioners.

As well as drawing on our core membership, the conveners will actively cooperate with neighbouring BISA working groups when devising conference panels, workshops and conferences. To become a member of our working group, you first need to become a member of BISA. Please visit the 'become a member' page for more information. All working group members will receive our newsletters and invitations to our events at the BISA annual conference and beyond.

Past events

Translation in/of world politics: Language, practices, power: 17-18 January 2020. A two-day conference to discuss translation as an intellectual and political practice in the ‘inter’ of International Relations.

- Workshop on 'Narrating IR: Exploring narrative as concept and method': 26-27 August 2018. This workshop sought to take stock of extant uses of narrative in the IR discipline and to advance novel ways of engaging with narrative as both concept and method.

- Workshop on 'Narrating Russian and Eurasian security': 18-19 June 2018. This workshop will unpick current narrative trends both inside and outside the region, relating to Russian and Eurasian security.

- Workshop on 'Concepts and post-communist identities: The power of perspective': 18-19 October 2017. This workshop explored the methods, benefits and limitations of taking a perspectivist approach to analysing International Relations.

  • Workshop on 'Identity in International Relations': 17-18 June 2017. A two-day workshop featuring early-career scholars, from across Europe, on the interpretation and critique of the international politics of identity.

  • 42nd BISA Annual Conference: 15-16 June 2017. Two interpretivist panels at the conference in Brighton, featuring professors from the universities of Cambridge, LSE and Sussex, amongst others.


Hannes Hansen-Magnusson
Cardiff University
Stephan Engelkamp
King's College London
Anahita Arian
University of Cambridge



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