The International Studies Association conference, from where I write, is the world’s biggest gathering of international relations scholars. Held annually in one attractive American city or another – New Orleans this year – it is typical of the sorts of jamborees that characterise tribal get-togethers in other disciplines too, no doubt.
It is – to borrow a slightly hackneyed and anachronistic metaphor – the Woodstock of IR-types.
What is striking about this conference, and similar events in other areas of intellectual activity, I suspect, is the absence of an undisputed star turn. The field’s leading lights are here in abundance, but there in no single figure that everyone agrees is pushing the proverbial boundaries of knowledge in a way no one else is.
At the risk of stretching an improbable metaphor to breaking point, there is no Jimi Hendrix of the IR world – or any other, for that matter.… Read the rest