Doing and Mediating Critique

My latest article (with Rocco Bellanova and Mareile Kaufmann) is now available at Security Dialogue (50, 1). The article forms a part of the jubilee special issue of Security Dialogue entitled ‘Doing and Mediating Critique,’ curated by myself, Rocco Bellanova, and Mareile Kaufmann, and including articles from Claudia Aradau and Jef Huysmans, Peter Burgess, Laura Sjoberg, Debbie Lisle and Heather Johnson, Matthias Leese, Kristoffer Lidén, and Blagovesta Nikolova.

The article can be downloaded here open access, or seen below. The full special issue is available here: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/sdib/50/1

 

Abstract

What does it mean to study security from a critical perspective? This question continues to haunt critical security studies. Conversations about normative stances, political engagement, and the role of critique are mainstays of the discipline. This article argues that these conversations tend to revolve around a too disembodied image of research, where the everyday practice of researchers is sidelined. But researchers do do research: they work materially, socially, and cognitively. They mediate between various feedback loops or fields of critique. In doing so, they actively build and exercise critique. Recognizing that fact, this article resists growing suggestions to abandon critique by, first, returning to the practice of critique through the notion of companionship. This permits us to reinvigorate our attention to the objects, persons, and phenomena through which critique gains inspiration and purpose, and that literally accompany our relationship to critique. Second, we explore what happens when our companions disagree, when critique faces controversies and (a) symmetries. Here, we support research designs of tracing credibility and establishing symmetries in order to move away from critique as denouncing positions we disagree with. Third, we discuss the relation between companionship, critique, reflexivity, and style. Here, the rhetorical practices of critical inquiry are laid out, and possibilities for its articulation in different and less silencing voices are proposed.

Citation

Austin, Jonathan Luke., Bellanova, Rocco. & Kaufmann, Mareile. (2019). ‘Doing and Mediating Critique: An Invitation to Practice Companionship,” Security Dialogue 50 (1).

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Article | Towards an International Political Ergonomics

Towards an International Political Ergonomics

My latest article, entitled Towards an International Political Ergonomics, is now forthcoming at the European Journal of International Relations. The article proposes the establishment of an ‘applied’ IR through the integration of ergonomic, design-centric, and new materialist theories of how change occurs in the world. A pre-print version of Towards an International Political Ergonomics can be read and/or downloaded below or directly via this link.

Abstract:

This article introduces International Political Ergonomics (iPER). iPER is a novel research programme focused on achieving positive-political change through the ergonomic (re)design of world politics. The approach is grounded on a shift across IR that recognizes its epistemic (i.e. knowledge- producing) core is often inadequate to achieve change. Insights from the practice turn and behaviouralist IR, as well as from philosophy, sociology, and neuroscience, demonstrate that much international behaviour is driven by the ‘unconscious’ or ‘non-reflexive’ re-articulation of repertoires of actions even where the pathologies of this process are known. This implies that knowledge production and dissemination (i.e. to policy-makers, global publics) is often unable to effect influence over social practices. What is thus required is a non-epistemic means of effecting world political change. iPER is a research programme that takes up this task. It does so by describing how small material interventions into world politics can radically shift individual behaviours by encouraging greater rationality, reflexivity, and deliberation. After laying out the theoretical basis for this claim, the article demonstrates it by detailing the application of iPER to violence prevention efforts. The article concludes by reflecting on the radical implications that iPER has for the vocation of IR.

Citation:

Austin, Jonathan Luke. (Forthcoming). ‘Towards an International Political Ergonomics,’ European Journal of International Relations.

Acknowledgements:

For their outstanding stewardship of this article I would like to thank the editors and reviewers of EJIR who helped improve the piece hugely. Likewise, the article benefited immeasurably from the kind comments, encouragements, and suggestions made by Anna Leander, Stephanie Perazzone, Ole Waever, Miguel Iglesias Lopez, Vincent Pouliot, Rebecca Adler-Nissen, Stefano Guzzini, Claudia Aradau, Victor Santos Rodriguez, Thomas Biersteker, Michael C. Williams, Mark Salter, Daniel Nexon, and Isabel Bramsen. Finally, for research assistance underlying several aspects of this article and the research project it forms a part of, I would like to thank Alice Baroni. This research was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) grant number CRSII5_170986.

 


 

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Talk | Ergonomics, Critique and Politics

On Thursday 6th December I gave a talk at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies entitled ‘Towards an International Political Ergonomics’ based on my current work exploring the interconnections between social theory, technology, and political change. A video version of the talk will be available shortly.

Workshop | Sensing Collectives

In a week or so, I will present some of my latest work (co-authored with Anna Leander) at the Hybrid Lab, Berlin. We will present a paper entitled “(De)Composing the Californian Aesthetic.” The programme for the event can be found below.

 

Publication | Doing and Mediating Critique

An early (pre-print) version of my latest article (with Rocco Bellanova and Mareile Kaufmann) entitled Doing and Mediating Critique: An Invitation to Practice Companionship is now available. The article will be published in Security Dialogue 50 (1), 2019.

Abstract

What does it mean to study security from a critical perspective? This question keeps haunting critical security studies. Conversations about normative stances, political engagement, and the role of critique are mainstays of the discipline. However, they tend to revolve around a too disembodied image of research, where the everyday practice of researchers is sidelined. Yet, researchers do do research: they work materially, socially, and cognitively. They mediate between various feedback loops or fields of critique. In doing so, they actively build and exercise critique. First, despite manifold suggestions to abandon critique, we suggest returning to the practice of critique via the notion of companionship. This permits us to reinvigorate our attention to the objects, persons, and phenomena through which critique gains inspiration and purpose, and that literally accompany our relationship to critique. Second, we explore what happens when our companions disagree, when critique faces controversies and (a)symmetries. Here, we support research designs of tracing credibility and establishing symmetries in order to move away from critique as denouncing positions we disagree with. Third, we discuss the relation between companionship, critique, reflexivity, and style. Here, the rhetorical practices of critical inquiry are laid out, and possibilities for its articulation in different and less silencing voices are proposed.

Citation: Austin, Jonathan Luke., Bellanova, Rocco. & Kaufmann, Mareile. (2019). ‘Doing and Mediating Critique: An Invitation to Practice Companionship,’ Security Dialogue 50 (1).

A copy of the article can be downloaded here.

 

Politics Beyond Technology | New Project

In collaboration with Anna Leander, I will shortly be launching a new project entitled Politics Beyond Technology. The project focuses affirmatively on the possibilities of a new renewed engagement with the material and technological vis-a-vis the problems facing International Relations, but does so not only theoretically, conceptually, or philosophically, but in dramatically practical terms: outlining how the discipline’s engagement with the technological has the potential to transform its future engagements with praxis. Exploratory for the workshops will take place in 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, and Beirut, Lebanon.

Project platform (updates soon!): http://www.politicsbeyondtech.wordpress.com

Workshop | Language and (In)Securitisation

In June 2018, I presented an ongoing research project being carried out with Anna Leander focused on the connections between aesthetics, security, and philosophical conceptions of the sublime. The work was presented at King’s College London’s Language and Everyday (In)securitisation workshop and included contributions from Jef Huysmans, Iver B. Neumann, Claudia Aradau, Didier Bigo, Rodney Jones, Kamran Khan, Rob Walker, and others.

Workshop | The Practice-Normativity Nexus

In June 2018 I participated in a workshop exploring the Practice-Normativity Nexus in International Relations Theory organised by Anna Leander, Antje Wiener, and Ole Jacob Sending. At the workshop, I presented my latest work on the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative and a related paper focused on the intersections between New Materialist theory and socio-political critique. Other participants at the workshop included Anna Leander, Stefano Guzzini, Antje Wiener, Ole Jacob Sending, Keith Krause, Philip Liste, Annabelle Littoz-Monnet, Mervyn Frost, Rahel Kunz, Thomas Biersteker, Elisabeth Prugl, Xymena Kurakowska, Klaus Dingwerth, and others.