Researching/teaching world politics

The production, spread, and use of scholarly knowledge about international politics is conditioned by a wide range of factors, from national foreign policy interests to higher education systems and scholarly re-conceptualizations. This research track analyses how world politics is researched and taught in academia. It develops this work through comparative studies, lending special attention to the question of whose views on international politics are taught in International Relations and Political Science.

The institutional ‘hinge’: How the end of the Cold War conditioned Canadian, Russian and Swiss IR scholarship

ISPIt is generally accepted today that major international events – such as in 1914, 1945, 1989 or 2001 – contribute to guiding IR scholarship’s interests. Yet, it remains surprisingly poorly explored how, beyond substantive focus, transformative political events affect the academic field’s own working and organization. Whereas we know that global key moments, such as the end of the Cold War, were or are experienced differently by different societies, at the policy level, in terms of identity-construction and historiography, it remains to explore how such changes influence scholarly work in different higher education systems. This article focuses on this linkage. It centers on the role of institutional factors in the conditioning of IR scholarship, which it sees as important yet under-explored intervening elements in the interrelation between political events and academic practice. The article defines the utility of such focus and illustrates it with casework centering on the end of the Cold War, and three central parties to the Cold War conflict – Russia as representative of the Eastern Bloc, Canada of the Western Alliance, and Switzerland as a Neutral polity. In doing so, the article showcases how institutional factors such as funding schemes, the marketization of education or creation of new IR departments operate as effective ‘hinges’, exerting significant influence over the ways scholars develop ideas about international relations.

ISP 2019 overview

Grenier, Félix; Hagmann, Jonas; Lebedeva, Marina; Nikitina, Yulia; Biersteker, Thomas; Koldunova, Ekatarina (2020). The institutional ‘hinge’: How the end of the Cold War conditioned Canadian, Russian and Swiss IR scholarship. International Studies Perspectives 21(2): 198-217. PDF

Counter-mapping the discipline: The archipelago of Western IR teaching

HPSIR.jpgWho teaches whose and what kind of knowledge at leading US and European IR schools? This chapter in the upcoming SAGE Handbook of the History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations analyses the core IR courses of 23 universities. The chapter unpacks these courses’ paradigmatic penchants and the authorship on which they draw. By looking at the ‘instructed’ and not the ‘published discipline’, it seeks to draw another picture of International Relations scholarship. In doing so, the aim is to problematize the powerful ontologies of scholarly work that underpin existing mappings of the discipline.

Paradigmatic penchants in core IR courses & sources of international knowledge 


Hagmann, Jonas; Biersteker, Thomas (2018). Counter-mapping the discipline: The archipelago of Western International Relations teaching. In: Gofas, Andreas; Hamati-Ataya, Inanna; Onuf, Nick (eds.). The SAGE Handbook of the History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations, pp428-445. London/New York: SAGE. PDF / Illustrations

Does everyone need a national IR school? Better not.

BISAAt the ISA Annual Convention in New Orleans numerous scholars drew on the sociology of IR literature to call for the creation of ‘national IR schools’, i.e., new and exclusively locally defined approaches to world politics and international analysis. An Indian school of IR ranked prominently among the candidates, but so did a Chinese school of IR, an Anatolian and a Brazilian one, and further propositions made at the panels and roundtables I attended centred on Eastern Europe. Hearing these calls, I wondered: Is the institutionalization of national IR disciplines really what the sociology of IR research agenda seeks to achieve?

Hagmann, Jonas (2016). Does everyone need a national IR school? Engaging the sociology of IR’s most recent appropriation. British International Studies Association BISA @40 Posts. 12 February. PDF

Teaching ‘statist’ behavior: The case of diplomatic academies


Diplomatic academies are instructive cases of how the production and dissemination of ‘international knowledge’ is conditioned by institutional factors. With their vocational focus, diplomatic academies are first and foremost sites for educating the praxis of state-behaviour. This orientation notwithstanding, the academies should not be dissociated from disciplinary IR. Already, diplomatic academies are closer to practical world politics, and thus to the central research object of IR – a point that itself warrants close(r) engagement with the diplomatic field and its professional reproduction. What is more, the barriers between diplomatic and academic training have become more porous recently, and both fields are marked by similar processes at their overarching institutional level, i.e., elements such as evolving mandates, the internationalization of contents and design, and a general commercialisation of activities. With a view to exposing a different site of international education and to generating further insights on the institutional sociology of IR, this contribution considers diplomatic schools as interesting hybrid sites of international education.

Hagmann, Jonas; Lebedeva, Marina (2016). Teaching (as) statist practice: Diplomatic schools as sites of international education. International Studies Review 18(2): 349-353. PDF

Towards an institutional sociology of the International Relations discipline

ISRThe sociology of International Relations (IR) literature successfully unpacks the discipline’s political and intellectual penchants. Yet curiously enough, it has not given more attention to the discipline’s embodiment in concrete institutions. How does the organization of social scientific fields, education policies, and related institutional transformations condition the production and diffusion of scholarly knowledge about world politics? This forum promotes a dedicated engagement with the ‘institutional sociology’ of the discipline. Its ambition is to highlight the diversity of sites and settings where specialized knowledge about international relations is produced, shaped and re-instantiated. In doing so, the focus on IR’s institutional layer becomes an important vector for opening up the literature to insights from related fields of study.


Grenier, Félix; Hagmann, Jonas (2016). Sites of knowledge (re-)production: Towards an institutional sociology of International Relations scholarship. International Studies Review 18(2): 333-336. PDF

With contributions by Inanna Hamati-Ataya, Thomas Biersteker, Thierry Balzacq, Jonas Hagmann, Marina Lebedeva, Jason Lane, Martin Müller and Félix Grenier.

Beyond Babylon? Teaching international politics in the 21st century

E_IRStudents of international politics are still made to learn a fairly one-dimensional understanding of international reality in the early 21st century. Whether discussing unrest in the Arab world, security dynamics in Afghanistan, or foreign politics in Latin America – many academic curricula still assess and explain world politics on the basis of a singular and objective body of thought. Such ‘modernist’ non-engagement with the cultural foundations of academic study programs is assertive and daring. Since, when narrowly defined diagnoses are projected onto the world, the danger of constructing transfigured and under-differentiated representations of distant places becomes especially acute. Students of international politics are led to act on imageries of Africa, Islam, the Balkans, China, and any other seemingly ‘exotic’ or ‘distant’ region or topic, without an awareness of the ways in which these imageries have been intimately colored by Western authors and their respective histories, trajectories, values, and world views. Instead of speaking with others about political issues, students of world politics are essentially induced to speak about others and their political topics.

Hagmann, Jonas (2015). Beyond Babylon? Teaching international politics in the 21st century. E-International Relations. 7 May. PDF

Engaging world politics through national lenses: IR teaching at leading American and European Political Science departments

EJIRThe emergent sociology of International Relations (IR) literature investigates the discipline’s organization and inner structuring. It makes the field cognizant of its own institutional and intellectual configurations and thus empowers scholars to engage more critically with IR’s analytical, geocultural, and political lenses. This contribution notwithstanding, the literature continues to focus on ‘flagship’ publications as indicators of intellectual proclivities, and on scholars as their only relevant audiences. This article challenges this focus. Making the case for an inquiry into classroom socialization, it maps the paradigmatic, geocultural, gendered, and historical perspectives taught to students in the case of 23 leading US and European IR graduate programs. It points to differences between the ‘instructed’ and the ‘published’ discipline, and shows how the former is governed and constrained by a variety of intellectual parochialisms. Problematizing the educative functions of these, the article advocates a more self-reflexive understanding of IR teaching.


Hagmann, Jonas; Biersteker, Thomas (2014). Beyond the published discipline: Towards a critical pedagogy of international studies. European Journal of International Relations 20(2): 291-315. PDF

Der Westen legt sich die Welt zurecht


Die dritte Welt habe nun endlich ihre eigene unüberhörbare Stimme, schrieb Jean-Paul Sartre 1961 in seinem Vorwort zu Frantz Fanons antikolonialer Streitschrift “Die Verdammten dieser Erde”. Und tatsächlich brachten die 60er und 70er Jahre in Europa und Nordamerika eine Pluralisierung der Wissenszugänge zur internationalen Politik mit sich. Alles gut also? Hat sich die Lehre der internationalen Politik nunmehr von der ihr angeboren westlichen Nabelschau emanzipiert? Eine neue Studie zeigt, dass dem leider nicht so ist. Wer eine fortwährende Multiplizierung der Zugänge zur internationalen Politik erwartet, sieht sich heute grundlegend enttäuscht.

Hagmann, Jonas (2011). Der Westen legt sich die Welt zurecht: Das Fach Internationale Politik erscheint als zunehmend engstirniges Denksystem. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 261, 9 November: N5. PDF