Researching Humanitarian Affairs: Normative Issues, Research Gaps, and Methodological Challenges

[Photo: Dmitri Popov/unsplash]

The study of humanitarian affairs – defined as international politics and policies that deal with the limitation of human suffering in situations of crisis and war – should be the core issue for many scholars of International Relations. In this blog post, I deal with three central themes relevant for studying humanitarian affairs: 1) issues and challenges, 2) research gaps, and 3) methodological challenges. In doing so, I am hoping to facilitate a larger debate about how we, as scholars of IR, can and should study humanitarian affairs. I will then conclude with some normative considerations on the relationship between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in the context of humanitarian affairs.

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Interview: Sifiso Ndlovu on the Soweto Youth Uprising (II)

In this week’s podcast episode, listen to the second half of Lynda Iroulo’s conversation with Prof. Dr. Sifiso Ndlovu, who took part in the 1976 Soweto youth protests against the oppressive apartheid regime.

After describing the events preceding the uprising in part one, hear Prof. Ndlovu talk about what happened on June 16, 1976, the paths that protesters have taken afterwards and his advice to young people today in part two of the interview.

Prof. Sifiso Ndlovu

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Interview: Sifiso Ndlovu on the Soweto Youth Uprising (I)

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                       [Photo: lubilub/gettyimages]

In this episode of our interview series, our host Lynda Iroulo talks to Prof. Dr. Sifiso Ndlovu, Professor of History at the University of South Africa and executive director of the South African Democracy Education Trust.

Listen to part I of the interview, as Prof. Ndlovu talks about how he experienced the Soweto Youth Uprising in June 1976 as a 14-year-old boy, the role of the Afrikaans language in education, and how an initial dissatisfaction led to a historic event.

Find an abridged transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Prof. Sifiso Ndlovu

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The curious case of the (almost) Republic of North Macedonia

A statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje [Photo: Robert Benson]
On September 30th, the people of a small country on the periphery of the European Union went to the polls to ask the question: what, if anything, is in a name?

For the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the stakes could not be higher.  Since its independence in 1991, Macedonia has been in a quixotic albeit highly-charged public row with Greece over its official state title. The problem stems from the perceived appropriation of the name Macedonia from a geographic and historical region of northern Greece which shares the country’s namesake.

The Greeks, for their part, claim that the government of Macedonia has deliberately tried to co-opt its Hellenic culture through a policy of ‘antiquisation’. Literally, the building of garish monuments and bronze statues scattered seemingly ironically through the capital city of Skopje and culminating in a surreal tribute to Alexander the Great: A spectacle that one must first see to believe.

The policy was the brainchild of then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, whose nationalist government was brought down by a series of dramatic wiretapping revelations in 2016 and who this year was found guilty of abusing state funds.

Yet lavish spending and recriminations aside, the otherwise risible dispute has serious policy implications that extend well beyond the Balkan Peninsula.

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Interview: Inken von Borzyskowski on suspension and withdrawal from international organizations

                                                                                                                                                                                  [Photo: WZB]

In this new episode of our interview series, our host Lynda Iroulo talks to Inken von Borzyskowski, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Florida State University.

Listen in, as Professor von Borzyskowski gives insight into her research on states leaving international organizations, political backsliding, and potential lessons to be drawn from Brexit and US policy under Trump.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

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It’s Time for Behavioral and Emotional International Relations

Two trends are emerging in International Relations (IR). One is the increasing receptiveness of scholars to insights from behavioural economics; the other is their growing interest in the role of emotions. These two trends have one thing in common: they both seek to bust the myth of rationality. Admittedly, many IR theories have already attempted to do so (e.g. constructivism, post-structuralism, feminism, or practice theory). However, these new approaches differ from the old ones in one important respect: they are more empirical because they are grounded in experimental and neuroscientific findings. This creates an opportunity for an interesting new body of IR scholarship. Before I get to that, let me first say a few words about behavioral economics and the scholarly turn towards emotions.

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Interview: John Boli on his career, methodological individualism and writing better

In this episode of our interview series, our host Lynda Iroulo talks to John Boli, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Listen in, as Boli gives insight into his journey to being a sociologist, current challenges within the discipline, and advice to young researchers on how to be better academic writers.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

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No Clean Slate: Why the legitimacy of the Security Council isn’t what it used to be

 

If you were to sit down and design a new international organization whose job it was to “maintain international peace and security,” and you came back with the design for the current United Nations Security Council, you would be handed your hat.

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Interview: Nitsan Chorev on the politics of global health

In this episode of our interview series, our host Luis Aue talks to Prof. Nitsan Chorev, Harmon Family Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Listen in, as Chorev gives insight into her research on pharmaceutical production in Africa and the politics of trade, development and foreign aid.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

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G-7 Summit: What it Tells Us About the Challenges to Western Cohesion

Image: pxhere.com

1975, Château de Rambouillet, 50 kilometers south-west of Paris. The heads of state and government of the six leading industrial countries gather for their first joint summit meeting. Today’s Group of Seven (G-7) was born. At its 44th summit, which took place at La Malbaie, Canada last week, the group saw a historic transition from careful policy coordination to undisguised political discord. From tensions over a possible readmission of Russia to President Trump’s instruction not to endorse the arduously negotiated communiqué – the gathering ended in a diplomatic fiasco. The more so as only one day later, on 10th June, China successfully orchestrated the inking of a joint summit declaration among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which also counts Russia and, more recently, India and Pakistan, among its members. Is the West breaking apart while the East consolidates?

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