18 August 2010

Theory Talks #36 ~ Michael Shapiro

I teach in a Political Science Department. This afternoon I discovered (because my friend Susan Orr pointed it out to me) a web page called Theory Talks which is run by Peer Schouten at the Institute for Global Studies in Göteborg, Sweden. It is a terrific undertaking which consists in an ongoing series of interviews with luminaries in the ephemeral disciplinary sub-field of "International Relations." The reason I think the site is so useful is that my own home department is, by any reasonable standard, not only small, but quite narrow and inbred. I do not say that in an entirely pejorative way; there is something to be said for a shared vision, so long as it does not become stultifying. (I actually believe that there is a strong argument to be made for the virtues of dogmatism in social and political inquiry. That places me at odds with many of those who proclaim the virtues of pluralism and 'interdisciplinarity' and so forth. That is another topic.) That said, the discipline of political science is pretty various and that is something that my own colleagues and our graduate students seem not to recognize, at least in any positive way. The interviews that Schouten has posted are a reminder of that.

Readers of this blog will want to consider this interview with Michael Shapiro ~ "Pictures, Paintings, Power and the Political Philosophy of International Relations." Shapiro is among the very first political scientists to work on the intersection of politics and photography. While I would differ with him on all sorts of matters, his work is smart and provocative.



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