Promising Post-4S Conference at LSE

Just got this from Peer Schouten, PhD Researcher, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg and it looks promising:

Call for papers

 Accounting for heterogeneities in the international: writing symmetry, engaging with criticality

A double panel and a seminar hosted by Theory Talks & Millennium during the 2012 Annual Millennium Conference


October 20-22 2012, at the London School of Economics

Conveners: Rocco Bellanova, Julien Jeandesboz, Peer Schouten


Technical devices such as algorithms, databases, and robots mediate the production of (in)security and the conduct of war; ‘non-places’ such as financial markets remap and reshape the exercise of state sovereignty; previously established distributions such as between ‘private’ and ‘public’ entities are increasingly entangled in hybrid assemblages. These and other heterogeneities of the international are part of a renewed focus on materialities and material practices in international relations (IR).

World politics is thus increasingly recognized as involving the participation of multiplicities of heterogeneous elements, many of which were until now smoothened out in mainstream IR accounts. When IR researchers shift their analytical lenses, they bring into focus agencies and practices that actively contribute to the assembling of the international—in doing so, they intervene in, and reformulate some of, IR’s most classical concerns. Point of departure for this workshop is that dealing with such seemingly new world politics, and accounting for these constitutive heterogeneities, however remains a difficult challenge.

 Aim of the event

The main goal of the event is to bring together researchers that, in different ways, depart from an understanding of IR premised on homogeneity and engage with entanglements and multiplicities that go beyond rational choice and inter-subjective social constructions. The ambition is to foster debates and exchanges on shared concerns with accounting for heterogeneities in the international. In particular, the aim of this event is to bring to the fore the potentialities and pitfalls of working with ‘thinking tools’ that hail from beyond the traditional disciplinary horizons of IR, such actor-network-theory (ANT), science, technology and society studies (STS), or performance theories.

 Structure of the event

This event consists of two conference panels and a seminar. The seminar, structured around two sessions and a keynote speech, will take place on Monday the 22nd, the day after the Millennium Conference.

 Conference panels

Each conference panel revolves around a specific theme: first, symmetries in the international; and second, the black-boxing of security. The first panel—symmetries—opens up analysis of entanglements of discourse and practice, social and material, in the constitution of the international; the second panel—black-boxing—addresses the politics of ‘securitization’ from a different angle, focusing on the processes of silencing, stabilizing, and separating out people, flows, and practices.

The participants are expected to contribute papers presenting their angle on, and use of, these concepts in relation to their own research. In order to foster a hybrid discussion, each panel will have two discussants, both an ‘outsider’ (from the fields of STS, ANT, or sociology) and a senior IR scholar discussing papers and presenting their understandings/applications of the notions at hand. The two conference panels will translate into two homonymous workshop sessions.

 Panel 1: Accounting for symmetries in the international

The first panel opens up analysis of assemblages or entanglements of for instance, discourse and practice, social and material, human and technical in the constitution of the international. It opens up space for contributions specifically trying to create balanced accounts of international phenomena that can most fruitfully be approached as heterogeneous or constituted across the ontological divides that traditionally structure analysis of international relations.

 Panel 2: Black-boxing international security

This second panel addresses the politics of ‘securitization’ from a different angle, focusing on the processes of silencing, stabilizing, and separating out people, flows, and practices. How do dominant security solutions and securitizations arise out of controversies and how are competing understandings, configurations and practices silenced and how are security practices themselves used to stabilize other assemblages?

 All participants need to submit a paper specifically focusing on one of the two panels. Co-authored contributions are particularly welcomed. Abstracts of around 300 words are due by May 1 and should be submitted both to and


This second part of the event shifts the accent to ethical and methodological issues, that is, the question of how to account for heterogeneities. It will take the form of two roundtables connected to the homonymous panels in which participants (both previous paper-givers and discussants/chairs) will be asked to share and discuss their own hesitancies, their tactics and ploys when confronted with the challenge of writing accounts of heterogeneities in the international. The seminar additionally aims at addressing questions as: what are the limits of translating STS/ANT into new fields? Is critical engagement still possible when the starting point of the research is symmetry? How can we be reflexive (and do we need to be) with regard to the researcher’s own practices of translating, black-boxing and assembling?

Participation to the seminar is open to all researchers participating to the Millennium conference. While presentations will trigger the debate among participants, the chairs will ensure that stimulating questions (and answers) coming from the public will not be lost.

 Seminar: How-to account for heterogeneities in the international?

 09:00-10:30     Roundtable session 1. Accounting for symmetries in the international

Chairs: Rocco Bellanova & Nick Srnicek

 10:30-10:45     Coffee break

 10:45-12:15     Roundtable session 2. Black-boxing international security

Chairs: Julien Jeandesboz & Peer Schouten

 12:15-13:00     Keynote speech: John Law (tbc)

 13:00               Closing by Millennium/Theory Talks

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