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ISE 2022 : International Security and the Environment


When Apr 20, 2022 - Apr 21, 2022
Where Online
Submission Deadline Dec 31, 2021
Notification Due Jan 7, 2022
Final Version Due Apr 7, 2022

Call For Papers

We propose this conference on International Security and the Environment in response to a growing engagement with the environment and related themes within the discipline of international relations (IR). While some authors have lamented a lack of attention to environmental issues in the field of IR, in recent years this appears to have been changing. The crescendo of warnings about the catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change have perhaps provided an extra impetus for greater engagement with the environment as authors grapple with the various causes, consequences, implications, and potential solutions to the existential crisis that humans and non-humans find themselves in.

Environmental security has been one area of IR in which authors have sought to tackle the myriad environmental challenges faced by peoples around the World. Research in this area has looked at political and governance responses to environmental problems, and the management of resources critical for human subsistence, such as for instance water. The depletion and growing scarcity of some resources has meant that control over them has moved to the forefront of nation-states’ concerns, and thus environmental security has had a profound impact on how geopolitics is being conducted in the contemporary age. Alternative approaches to environmental security have nevertheless shown a greater skepticism towards state-centric approaches and solutions to environmental problems. ‘Human security,’ for instance, sees greater potential in shifting the referent object of security from states and territory to human beings themselves. Closely related to this has been the proliferation of ‘sustainable’ approaches to governance, such as can be seen in ‘sustainable development’ programs, which have been widely endorsed by nation-states, international institutions and non-governmental organizations alike.

Meanwhile, critical authors have sought to deploy new concepts to explain and inquire into the implications of human induced environmental damage. A key development in recent years has been the incorporation of the concept ‘anthropocene’. Beyond the illumination of damaging environmental processes and the quest for much needed solutions, the anthropocene draws crucial attention to the human-induced character of this new geological age. In doing so, the anthropocene becomes a locus within which the very binaries, categories, and concepts, which have sustained IR as a discipline come under attack. In particular, the division between the ‘social’ and the ‘natural’ becomes especially problematic as the human subject can no longer logically be constituted as ontologically independent from the natural world. Neither is it reasonable to assume that the human subject can retain its all-powerful position in employing reason for the manipulation of the natural world as the realization hits home that human activity is the problem and is effectively bringing the Earth system into the equation like never before. The concept anthropocene thus raises crucial questions about the possibilities of agency and governance in this seemingly new geological age.

Another important development has been the incorporation of ‘post-human’ approaches to studies on the environment. Ecological security is one part of this, and aspires to shift the referent object of security on to the biosphere or ecological processes themselves. The non-human sphere, thus, takes on central importance, but this is grounded on the ways in which human beings and the natural World are inextricably implicated in each other. Rather than separate spheres, it is a case of the co-constitution of the human and non-human, and drawing out the implications of this for a more critical environmental politics. Post-human approaches, broadly speaking, have also shown a tendency to embrace new methodologies, which can better analyze the complex interactions between the social and the natural World. For instance, some authors have embraced New Materialism and Actor-Network Theory, with the aims of showing how assemblages of human and non-human elements form part of shared wholes. In this way, new methodologies harbour the potential to problematize the distinction between natural and social systems, which can ultimately lead to the deconstruction and reformulation of some of IR’s most entrenched concepts.

The international conference International Security and the Environment invites papers on a number of broad themes to gather together empirical and theoretical research which responds in some way to the challenges posed by environmental changes. Thus, we wish to provide a platform for critical dialogue on the nature of these challenges, but also the implications that these changes have for IR as a discipline. In particular, we are interested in papers that are situated in:
Environmental security
Ecological security
Governance and the environment
Geopolitics and the environment
Sustainable development
The anthropocene and international relations
The capitalocene and world ecology
Resilience approaches
New methodologies to study the environment in IR
Green Economy

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