Given its object of study, one would think that the field of International Relations would be a particularly cosmopolitan and ecumenical discipline. In many ways it is. But in some respects it resembles a collection of warring tribes. This has probably declined somewhat since the Big Debates of the 1990s—the Neo-Neo Debate, epistemology wars between neo-positivists and ‘critical’ theorists—which still provide many of the key readings for students of IR theory. But these Big Debates didn’t really end in a definitive victory for one side. They mostly gave way to a Cold Peace amongst relatively insular scholarly communities. Well they maybe did – it’s hard to know for sure.
One of the interesting phenomena about how IR scholars talk about their field and their tribe is that they often refer to it as ‘mainstream’. Often, this is done by those who feel they are outside of the mainstream. (Interestingly, there does not appear to be an accepted metaphor to refer to those who are not part of the mainstream – backwaters? Counter-currents?) But what does this mainstream consist of?
In this episode of our interview series, our host Lynda Iroulo talks to James Currey, co-founder of the Oxford-based James Currey Publishers and, together with Nigerian poet Chinua Achebe, creator of the African Writers Series launched in 1962.
Listen in, as Currey gives insight into his first steps in the publishing business and contemporary African literature, and why he doesn’t intend to stop what he is doing any time soon.
Find an abridged transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here: