From June 12-14 I left Dundee for a few days and attended my first British International Studies Association (BISA) conference in London and I really enjoyed it. For the first two days of the conference, I basically attended panel-after-panel, about four each day. I used to attend a large number of panels at regular ISA meetings, but as I've become more senior in the discipline, I've used my research travel funding to attend smaller workshops focused on specific research projects or to attend more specialized security studies conferences.
Even when I attend ISA these days, I've spent large blocks of conference time meeting with other academics (whether engaged in mutual projects or social functions), talking to publisher representatives in the book rooms, or preparing for discussant duties (reading panel papers often received at the last minute).
I was largely freed from those sorts of responsibilities at BISA as I did not know very many people at the conference, it featured only a very small book room, and I was not assigned any service responsibilities.
The many panels I attended at BISA 2019 were generally of a high level and I look forward to seeing some of the research once it is published. The third day I attended only the morning panels and spent some time in the book rooms as well. I did have one meeting a book publisher and connected with a number of new friends throughout the meeting.
The very first panel I attended reflected the kind of intellectual and identity diversity featured throughout the conference. It focused on a new book that I have not yet read -- The Making of Global International Relations: Origins and Evolution of IR at its Centenary by Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan. Both authors attended and spoke, though only Buzan was listed in the program.. The panel was chaired by Chris Brown of the London School of Economics and also included Laust Shouenborg (Roskilde University in Denmark), Michael Cox (LSE), Meera Sabaratnam (SOAS), and George Lawson (LSE).
I attended an assortment of panels, mostly chosen by topic; thus, some featured graduate students, others highlighted the work of junior scholars, and still others included prominent European scholars, including Nick Wheeler (University of Birmingham), Ole Wæver (University of Copenhagen), Charlotte Epstein (University of Sydney),
These where the titles of the panel I attended in full:
- The Making of Global International Relations: Origins and Evolution of IR at its Centenary
- Global Leadership in the Future of International Relations
- Trump and the Liberal International Order
- US relations with the World
- International Law as an Instrument of Politics: Interpreting, Contesting, and Deploying Legal Norms
- Trump, American Exceptionalism and the International Order (my panel)
- School’s Out? Beyond New Thinking in International Security
- Twists and (Re)Turns: Directions in International Political Theory
I also did a little panel hopping at times in attempt to see some specific presentations of interest. That strategy did not always work -- I would just miss a presentation, or in one case the room was too full to enter.
My presentation was on "An Alliance of the Multilateralists: Practical Necessity or Foolish Fantasy?" It seemed to be generally well-received, though I had proposed this topic earlier this year when I thought Germany and France were going to move forward with their proposed "alliance" at a faster clip. They officially rolled out their Alliance For Multilateralism at the September UN meetings in NY. Thus, much of my paper explained why they were moving forward and speculated about the kinds of subjects that might be on the agenda going forward.
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