Wednesday, March 22, 2006

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ISA blogging

Blogging will be light for the next few days, as I attend and present at the International Studies Association meeting in San Diego.

I mocked ISA last year for their dress tips, but this year I see that the conference has its very own blog. So clearly, the International Studies Association has officially jumped the shark.

Here's a fun time-waster for loyal and truly geeky readers -- flip through the conference program and tell me which panel I simply must attend on Friday and why. The winner will be chosen arbitrarily by me and will receive a serio-comic summary of what transpired at the panel.

posted by Dan on 03.22.06 at 07:01 PM


OK, I took the bait and looked at the entire Friday program. Even more depressing than I expected. Without much exaggeration, I found only three panels the entire day that struck me as seriously worth checking out (factoring in my subjective assessments of the importance of topic and quality of personnel):

FB11, 10:30 am
"Political Islam and the North-South Divide: Resistance Ideology or Terrorist Creed"
Mohammed Ayoob, Juan Cole, Greg Gause, Shireen Hunter, A. Richard Norton

FB13, 10:30 am
"IR Theory and Foreign Policy Analysis: What is the Connection?"
Yuen Khong, Andrew Hurrell, John Ikenberry, Deborah Larson, John Mearsheimer

FC04, 1:45 pm
"The Debate Continues: American Hegemony in Theoretical and Historical Perspective--Christopher Layne's The Peace of Illusions"
Mike Desch, Bob Art, John Mearsheimer, Daryl Press

The first could be interesting because Greg Gause is always worth hearing and Juan Cole knows a lot and should be entertaining, and the panel might throw off some sparks given the politicized nature of the topic.

The third could be interesting because grand strategy and American hegemony are very important topics, Layne is a sharp analyst, and the panelists are quite good. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of theoretical diversity there--there should be a lot of agreement rather than the battle royale the subject deserves.

My choice, therefore, would be the second panel. Why? Because no topic is more important for policy-oriented IR types, because it rarely gets discussed intelligently, and because the panelists are not only outstanding but also theoretically diverse. You have top representatives of most of the major traditions there, who should disagree amongst themselves while having important things to say. Let's put it this way: if they can give convincing affirmative answers to the title question, then it should highlight the irrelevant garbage on the rest of the program schedule. And if they can't give convincing affirmative answers, then the rest of the country is justified in continuing to ignore the academy entirely. As a bonus, finally, somebody might ask Mearsheimer if he's an anti-Semite or throw a kugel in his face or something, which would be amusing to watch...

posted by: lamont cranston on 03.22.06 at 07:01 PM [permalink]

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