Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Co-IRIS Research Agenda: Diversifying IR theories and approaches (Finding a via media between IR and Islam, and Worlding beyond the Clash of Civilizations)




Co-IRIS is planning to submit a workshop proposal for the International Studies Association’s (ISA) Venture research grant category. See http://www.isanet.org/ProgramsResources/Grants/WorkshopGrants.aspx

Our workshop proposal is:


International Relations (IR) has been defined as a field in recent history by the dynamics of (neo)colonial powers especially with the triumph of the United States as the sole world power in post-Cold War era. It has been dominated by theories and perspectives that are almost solely built on European/American traditions and perceptions of what IR is and what it should be. For example, European /American IRs have for long been informed by a widespread belief in the significant sovereignties of and characterized by secular nature of IR actors (both nation-states and non-states) disregarding the impact of religious elements and not recognizing equal importance of both rational and revealed knowledge. Consequently, religion is playing a larger role in all levels of analysis in IR.

Mainstream and reflexive IR theories and approaches, e.g. realism, liberalism, neo-neo synthesis/debate, social constructivism, critical theory, Marxism, poststrucuralism, English school, etc., have most, if not all, determined a lack of interest in the possibility of truly encompassing, inclusive, and globally based international values and norms distinguishing peripheral contributions beyond the usual European/American IR ontologies and epistemologies. However, following the end of the Cold War, the nature of world politics has been changing drastically, shifting from great power competition to the management of transnational issues and necessity of cooperation among global different actors. Here it comes our agenda, Islam.

Rather than an all-inclusive alternative theory of international relations, Islam represents a paradigm and research program that emphasizes law over anarchy, community over human selfishness, commitment over inconstancy, ethics over materialism, etc. As one of the foremost world religions and way of life, Islam offers useful elements of comparison and inspiration that can help improve our understanding and vision of international affairs and world politics.

The foundation of International Relations and Islamic Studies Research Cohort (Co-IRIS) is created and built to explore Islamic contributions to the field of IR on many levels: the theoretical level, and the praxis of international affairs in Muslim societies. The inclusion of Muslim contributions is not meant to create an isolationist, judicious divide between what is Islamic and what is not. Co-IRIS is created to act on the inclusion of that knowledge as a building bloc in the IR field. That is, finding bridges and commonalities between IR and Islam.

Co-IRIS is premised on the idea that knowledge is fluid: peoples adopt and utilize thoughts and ideas regardless of faith, gender, nation, etc. The mainstream idea that all knowledge presented by the Europeans and Americans is from an “Orientalist” perspective or that there is a “clash of civilizations” are both notions that are antithetical to the research agenda of Co-IRIS. Its primal aim is to develop and sustain a body of knowledge that addresses the theories and practices of the Islamic civilization and of Muslim societies with regards to international affairs and to the discipline of IR. This workshop asks the questions: Is Islamic International Relations thought and practice in congruence with contemporary IR theories or not? Comparatively, what are the similarities and differences? If there are differences, what are they and why do they exist? Can Islamic episteme influence contemporary IR theory?

We are looking forward to receiving proposals in line with our research agenda as specified above. Please email your 300-word abstract (or if the research paper is complete, the better) and your complete CV at info@coiris.org. The deadline of submission is on 11 July 2014 and notification of results is on 18 July 2014. Many thanks for your interest to Co-IRIS and you are more than welcome to join us by registering at www.coiris.org.

Yours Truly,

Your Co-IRISmates: Dr. Deina Abdelkader (University of Massachusetts at Lowell), Dr. Raffaele Mauriello (Sapienza, University of Rome), and Nassef Manabilang Adiong (independent).