What is the source of our current predicament? Or, to put it more bluntly – how did we end up here? This has been one of the foundational questions of International Relations scholarship since the first steps towards a discipline were taken more than a century ago. During the first decades of disciplinary development, no particular justification for turning to history was needed. For a discipline which grew partly out of History, more or less explicitly theoretically informed historical narrative was the predominant form of scholarship.
The turn to behavioural analysis around 1960 challenged this state of affairs, and even though explicit historical analysis never disappeared, it clearly lost its pride of place. Likewise, even if scholars across the discipline were clearly studying history (albeit often relatively recent history), there was little explicit reflection about how and why one should engage history.
Over the last two decades, International Relations has undergone what has been referred to as an “historical turn”, with an increasing number of scholars self-consciously describing their work as historical, and engaging in ever more sophisticated theoretical and empirical historical analyses.
The HIST project at NUPI seeks to align itself with this trajectory, gauging the historical dimensions of current trends and predicaments, and theorizing international politics through historical analyses. It also gathers ongoing research on historical international relations at NUPI. This consists both of long-term personal projects and shorter-term collaborative projects.
Senior Research Fellow,Head of the Research Group on Global Order and Diplomacy