The role of technology in IR

Section for the EISA PEC-17, Barcelona, 13-16 September 2017

Convenors: Marijn Hoijtink (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Matthias Leese (ETH Zurich)

On the widest conceptual scale possible, in Bruno Latour’s words, “technology is society made durable”. Technology facilitates, technology speeds up, technology automates, and technology does things that humans simply cannot do. In this sense, technology is a central aspect of IR. And yet, within the disciplinary paradigm it often remains “black-boxed”. Technology is present in analyses, but it is seldom deconstructed and engaged with in terms of its trajectories and bifurcations that, in turn, are embedded in political and social contexts. Moreover, there is a lack of clarifications regarding its ontological and epistemological status in studying the international.

Overall, technology has been given a surprisingly little amount of attention measured against its ubiquity and political and social significance. More recently, there have been calls to engage the role of technology more thoroughly and systematically – however, with few exceptions, such pledges still await delivery. This might be due to the lack of a proper toolbox to do so within IR, but it might also be due to a certain tendency to subdue the banal, the mundane, and the technical under more obvious questions of “the international”.

The proposed section seeks to engage the role of technology in IR, thereby inviting investigations that cover its theoretical status, its emergences, its practices, and its ethical and legal aspects. Taking inspiration from neighboring disciplines such as STS, geography, or philosophy of technology, we encourage contributions that critically engage technology vis-à-vis wider disciplinary trajectories.

Topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Technology and the status of knowledge
  • Technology practices
  • Technology and science diplomacy
  • The ontology of technology
  • Normative implications of technology

Please submit your proposal by 10 February 2017 the latest through the official EISA website: http://www.paneuropeanconference.org/2017/

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Marijn Hoijtink (m.hoijtink@vu.nl) and Matthias Leese (matthias.leese@sipo.gess.ethz.ch)