International Political Design | Call for Papers | EISA 2022

Could we make algorithms that improve world politics? Emancipatory computational designs for global publics? Artistic installations that jolt us into critique? Crafted objects that generate reflection on war, violence, and alternative futures? Designs for different international futures?

These questions are at the core of a standing section that myself and Anna Leander are convening at the European International Studies Association’s annual Pan-European Conference (1-4th September, Athens). The section explores how IR and associated disciplines might expand the focus of its intellectual, normative-political, and quotidian practice beyond what Friedrich Kittler termed the “monopoly of writing” so as to explore the potential of new forms of design and making within the discipline. We are especially interested in contributions (papers, panels, roundtables) that explore any of the following key themes (and beyond):

  • Conceptual, empirical, and practical work on how IR might integrate different forms of material and aesthetic design or making into its practice, including but not limited to:
    • Computational or digital making (the design of apps, algorithms, databases, etc.);
    • Artistic making (installation, painting, collaging, etc.);
    • Visual making (photography, cinema, dance, etc.);
    • Architectural design and practice;
    • Craft-based making (metalworking, woodworking, weaving, stitching, pottery);
    • Game-based making (map design, lego, etc.);
    • Engineering (‘technical’ making of all kinds);
    • Digital fabrication (3d printing; circular economies, etc.);
  • Reflections on how to design international things that explore, for example:
    • How and why designed material and aesthetic objects spread across global space and exert socio-political power;
    • Whether or not it is possible to predict or control (to any degree) the politicio-normative effects of such circulations of designed objects;
    • If it is possible to balance local, indigenous, and situated needs/desires with global designs (following Mignolo);
    • If a form of non-coercive and democratic or emancipatory form of designing international things is possible or not.
  • Reflections on the ethics and politics of engaging in design and making, including vis-a-vis:
    • How design/making can be more than ‘problem-solving’ in its ambition and effects;
    • The relationships between ‘basic’ and ‘applied’ social scientific work;
    • The risks of political co-option when collaborating with other disciplines and vocations;
    • The dangers of devaluing traditional academic work through engaging design and making;
    • The capacity (or not) for design and making to escape commercial and neoliberal logics.
  • Engagements with the pragmatic obstacles to expanding the practice of IR beyond the written word and/or logo-centrism that explore themes such as the following:
    • The opportunities and challenges of transdisciplinary collaboration;
    • The political economy of (commercial) academic life;
    • The challenges posed by the functional differentiation of academic and social life to work of this nature;
    • The continued prevalence of Snow’s ‘two cultures’ within the scientific field.

In exploring these, or related questions, the section is entirely open vis-a-vis the disciplinary or sub-disciplinary fields employed. This might include, for example, approaches within international political sociology, critical security studies, science and technology studies, design theory and research, critical making, speculative design, engineering, ergonomics, and fear beyond. We also welcome contributions that explore other forms of design that complement or challenge the above foci, including for instance literatures on policy design and transfer.

Abstracts, panels, or roundtables can be submitted directly via the EISA system. The deadline for submission is 16th March 2022.