ISA 59th Annual Convention: Power of Rules and Rule of Power

Event Information

Hilton San Francisco
San Francisco
United States
End Date

Many approaches to understanding international politics begin with the observation that international politics operates in a condition of anarchy, and that this creates fundamentally different interactions than those we witness in domestic politics. Yet, despite the lack of a formal government, the international system operates through a vast web of rules-- formal and informal, explicit and implicit. While powerful actors may have disproportionate influence in the creation, maintenance, and contestation of rules, explicit and implicit rules also influence notions of power and serve as sources of power. There is an endogenous, mutually constitutive, relationship between power and rules.

Our 2018 conference theme seeks to understand the relative and relational influence of power and rules in international politics. While the interaction between power and rules characterizes the subject we study, it also characterizes the international studies profession. We invite proposals that address and problematize power structures, rules, and norms in our discipline, our universities, and our professional associations as well as in international interactions.

Some representative questions the theme might address include:

  • What are the processes by which formal and informal rules of interaction are established in international politics? Under what conditions do we witness the creation of international organizations, agreements, and law? How do norms of interaction come to be accepted?
  • Whose interests are and are not represented in contests over the establishment of rules?
  • How do the rules of international politics influence international and domestic outcomes? Are powerful actors constrained by rules? If so, how and under what conditions?
  • How and under what conditions do rules, norms, mutual understandings, and power structures change?
  • What constitutes power in international politics? To what extent is power dependent upon or independent of implicit and explicit normative and institutional processes that govern areas of international politics?
  • What are the relationships between power, authority, and legitimacy?
  • How can we explain and understand the varying governance structures that exist in international politics? Why do we see different structures of governance across time, space, and issue area?
  • What are the current structures of power and rules in the international studies profession, both within and outside academia? How do these structures influence who participates in, and who is recognized as being a member of, the profession? How do these structures affect what we study and how we study it?
  • How do rules and norms of the international studies profession change, and what changes might produce desirable outcomes?

We particularly encourage the submission of proposals that bridge traditional divides methodologically, paradigmatically, theoretically, epistemologically, ontologically, and/or substantively. Panels and roundtables that link scholars and practitioners are especially welcome, and panel and roundtable proposals should include demographically diverse sets of participants. We hope to produce a program that gives voice to a multiplicity of viewpoints and showcases the diversity of our association.

Types of Proposals
You can read about the various types of proposals that we are accepting for the conference on our submission types page. You can also find details on the requirements - including abstract limits and paper counts - on that page as well.