Paul Kirby (LSE)

Hey Robbie,

Thanks very much for the email and for thinking of me. The thrust is fascinating but my contribution to the debate is pretty much restricted to the possible forms the project could take.

1. The Glories Of The Interweb:

Academics really haven’t caught on to the possibilities of blogging. There are now some interesting mainstream and ever-so-slightly critical IR blogs out there (for the former, check Stephen Walt, Drezner et al. [http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/ and http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/%5D; for the latter, Duck Of Minerva [http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/]). There are some really interesting social theory and philosophy blogs that I learn a lot from (Mark Fisher is particularly wonderful [http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/] and Nina Power often has interesting stuff to say [http://www.cinestatic.com/infinitethought/]. The London Review of Books blog is also frequently great [http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/]).

A collective blog along the lines of Duck Of Minerva would be extremely easy to set up and hugely useful for a bunch of reasons: a) multiple authors working on the same blog can allow for interesting internal conversations and a posting frequency that is just not possible when you are trying to go it alone in your own little corner of the web; b) when it involves interesting people and interesting ideas, it becomes a kind of one-stop go-to shop for the kind of continuous conversation you seem to envisage; c) the possibilities are broader here than anywhere else.

If it already existed, such a blog could easily be running instant analysis of the wikileaks exposure of US military tactics in Iraq alongside longer, more reflective pieces on why Fanon still matters, or small interventions on the state of the academy or the kind of slips, assumptions and errors in ‘normal’ IR that deserve pointing out but don’t deserve the hassle or space of the peer-reviewed rebuttal. There could easily also be such a project specifically for ‘decolonial’ scholars and their thought. I would say these should be public in the same way as other IR blogs, i.e. people will know who you/we are, but anonymity has its values too.

Of course, the internet is bigger than blogs. A more private option would simply be an e-mailing list. Old-school, but still pretty good. A more expansive project (involving research funding and long-term work) would be some resource like this: http://www.blackatlantic.com/index_project.html (which I’m sure you know of). In addition, it is worth considering setting up or linking to an archive of texts along the lines of http://a.aaaarg.org, which features virtually the entire works of Deleuze and Foucault and the big hitters from Fanon, alongside much else of great worth and interest. There are copyright issues here, which people will have to assess themselves, but much of this may not be a problem depending on the author and the age of the work).

2. The Research Collective:

This could be something like C.A.S.E. [http://www.casecollective.org/] in the sense of leading to actual academic outputs that can count for career progress, or something a bit looser. I still think an online presence would be hugely useful as a reservoir for pieces, a network and an easily accessible aspect of public IR, but it would not be strictly necessary. A tight version would involve a couple of people dividing up labour along some pre-agreed lines to make the big points that need making, but a more sprawling one could simply mean keeping us all in touch somehow (see above). Output-wise, an edited book or forum makes sense.

Hope some of that is productively suggestive. I’ll certainly maintain an interest in the project’s progress.

P

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