World Political Compositions

How do we make visceral, real, and lived sense of the International? This volume draws together contributions around the concept of composition, in the aesthetic sense of the term, and the five traditional senses of human perception in order to answer this question more creatively, affectively, and – so – ‘objectively’ than it has been before. The contributors ask how simple sounds, sights, touches, smells, and tastes form the core of world political phenomena in terms of their manifestation of scale, their construction of systems of signification, their working to ‘make things happen’ around us, and ultimately their standing as the main building blocks of both everyday and academic sensemaking. Combining insights from the aesthetic turn in international political theory, the emerging interest in science, technology and art in IR, and growing (ethnographic) concern for the quotidian, practical, and everyday of world politics, the volume asks us to ‘ground’ – quite literally speaking – these already quite theoretically developed areas of study in our phenomenological experience of the world around us. It asks how the world is composed both as an object of individual apprehension and, more than that, how this object gains a collective and coherent understanding through our mutual embededness in its diverse sensing: how individual sounds, sights, touches, smells, and tastes carry across borders (mis)understandings of what the world is, could be, and means. The contributions to the volume will be accompanied by an online platform that works to draw together the sensual content of world politics into an open repository of data that, rather than replicating the print book, can be dynamically added to, revised, and reinterpreted by the reader. In this, the volume hopes to stand as a starting point for an iterative process of ‘making sense of the international’ that will allow for the emergence of new imaginaries of what it means to ‘do’ international relations in the twenty first century.