2023 Keynote Speaker
Republicanism and Imperialism at the Frontier: A Post-BLM genealogy of International Relations
“In the summer of 2020 the field of IR rushed to respond to the national and global irruptions of support for Black Lives Matter. Racism is conventionally apprehended in the field as a domestic issue, and a “soft” politics issue at that. Yet there does exist in the US academy an under-appreciated and long standing engagement with racism, foreign policy and geopolitics. This engagement is not made from the margins: in 1960, none other than Hans Morgenthau himself provided a clear analysis of such connections in light of Brown vs Board of Education. The “post” in postcolonial acts as an intellectual provocation: in the aftermath of an event, how might we rethink received traditions of inquiry that prove ill-equipped to explain and evaluate the event itself? The explanatory value of the “post” lies in both exposing the disciplinary conventions of absence and retrieving marginalized presences that provide alternative modes of inquiry.
Picking up on Morgenthau’s forgotten intervention I provide a contribution to what might be called post-BLM IR. I excavate an archaeology of the longstanding intimacy of republicanism and imperialism via the racialized concept of the “frontier”. For this purpose, I bring together the arguments and narratives of four authors who are innovators of the field in the US: William Francis Allen, Frederick Jackson Turner, Morgenthau, and Merze Tate. I claim that this archaeology of the “frontier” might help us to grapple responsibly and incisively with IR post-BLM.”
Robbie Shilliam is Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University. He is most recently author of Decolonizing Politics (Polity, 2021). He is a member of the grassroots initiative, School of Sacrament Rastafari University.