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Turkey and Beyond: Alternative Approaches to International Relations Conferance, Istanbul, 24-25 November 2011‏

The International Relations discipline has been dominated by the realist approach and its preoccupation with the nation-state since the end of the Second World War. While nation-states and their respective governments occupied the center stage in realist writing, this conventional perspective also argued that the inter-state relationship is bound to be a conflictual one. Over the years, the realist paradigm has largely confined the study of international relations to the study of state behavior. This paradigm has shaped the discipline in the Turkish academia -- as well as in the whole world. Today, however, the international relations field is much more diversified due to the continuous challenges directed at this conventional wisdom from a number of alternative approaches. The non-exhaustive list of critical perspectives on foreign policy and international politics include political economy, Marxism, feminism, constructivism and post-structuralism. Due to these epistemological challenges and the constantly changing nature of world politics, the discipline has also witnessed the emergence of inter-disciplinary sub-fields such as new diplomacy, transnational studies and critical security studies -- among others. Because these new sub-fields are representative of the changing actors, issues and the practices in contemporary international politics, they constitute the major focus of the conference.
MURCIR's prospective conference, "Alternative Approaches to International Relations: Turkey and Beyond" aims to bring together scholars who employ non-state-centric perspectives in their analysis of international relations and its constitutive aspects such as security, diplomacy and foreign policy. Being one of the oldest research centers in the Turkish international relations academia and having pursued an interdisciplinary research agenda since its foundation, MURCIR aims to provide a venue for academic discussion with regard to these new perspectives and emerging topics. Due to its distinct geographical and cultural location which places the country in between Asia, Middle East and Europe, we believe that Turkey provides an excellent example for those who observe such transformations. The conference organizing committee particularly encourages scholars who focus on unconventional (non-state) agents of change in international relations, including sub-state, trans-national or non-governmental actors, social classes, religious communities, occupational groups, humanitarian agencies, migrant communities, identity groups (gender, ethnic, etc.) and individuals.
The conference welcomes studies from both Turkey and abroad. While there is no limitation with regard to the geographical scope of individual papers, scholars who have conducted theoretical or empirical studies concerning Turkey and the surrounding areas are particularly encouraged to apply. We consider the publication of individual papers in an edited conference volume or in a special issue in a journal of international relations.
Session I: Transnational Social Actors and Processes
(Discussant: Prof. Ayhan Kaya, Istanbul Bilgi University)
This panel aims to stimulate discussion on the particular impact of transnational actors, organizations, networks and practices that limit/challenge the traditional role of the nation-state in the international arena. With its interdisciplinary agenda, the emerging field of transnational studies aims at mapping out social change in different contexts with a renewed focus on non-state agents. This perspective focuses on new social relations, spaces, networks and patterns that create and foster various forms of inter-relatedness and interdependencies across borders. Regarding nation-state as a historical construct and removing the boundaries between the "global" and the "local", the transnational perspective enables us to see how these two seemingly distinct spatial categories are constitutive of one another. This panel invites scholars and researchers from different disciplines to reflect upon the micro and macro-level transnational political processes which involve social groups with cross-border ties, e.g. civil society groups, religious communities, humanitarian agencies, migrant communities, identity groups (gender, ethnic communities, etc.).
Session II: New Themes and Perspectives in Security
(Discussant: Assoc. Prof. Pýnar Bilgin, Bilkent University)
The recent decades have witnessed a conceptual and empirical broadening of the security agenda in international relations. With the nation-state paradigm in decline, security is no longer confined to the study of defense strategies, inter-state conflict, territorial issues or armament. The new security agenda, by contrast, covers a wide range of phenomena including popular discourse, political identity, politics of religion, politics of migration, politics of anti-terrorism measures and geo-politics. While the previously neglected aspects of human or environmental security is now added to the security agenda, the field is further broadened with the emerging literature on new themes such as cyber-security or bio-security. This panel, therefore, aims to provide a forum for discussion on the critical studies focusing on new dimensions of security. Presenters are encouraged to explore new theoretical/methodological approaches in the international relations and security studies within inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary frameworks. Panel themes include the politics of environmental and human security, security dimensions of religious, ethnic, gender and political identities, popular discourse, anti-terrorism practices, visual security (securitization of symbols), eco-terrorism and securitization after the events of 9/11.
Session III: Beyond Traditional Diplomacy?
(Discussant: Prof. Chris Brown, London School of Economics)
In the age of globalization, the conceptual and practical challenges facing the nation-state had its parallels in diplomacy, which, in its conventional sense, refers to the activity of government designated diplomats on behalf of their countries. Given the levels of inter-connectedness in today's world, however, diplomatic activity is no longer confined to the acts undertaken by state representatives i.e., the delivery of official messages, conducting negotiations, symbolic representation of their countries vis-à-vis other governments, etc. This panel aims to discuss "new diplomacy", a term which emphasizes the new actors, issues and methods of exchange that lie beyond the boundaries of classical diplomacy. Shifting the focus away from official representatives towards citizens, groups and various non-state agents, whose particular interests do not necessarily overlap with that of the state, this term makes a significant detour from conventional understandings of diplomacy. "New diplomacy" also refers to the changing nature of diplomatic practices, including a more transparent diplomatic conduct as well as the network/coalition-based activities which rely on various media (TV, journals, internet). The Wikileaks phenomenon –albeit an extreme case- was the most recent manifestation of these new challenges in the diplomacy field. This panel, therefore, aims to cover new issue areas and theoretical approaches regarding "new diplomacy", with its particular focus on the diplomatic influence of various sub-state/non-state agents, including individuals, think tanks, political parties, dissident groups, NGO's, municipalities, religious or ethnic communities, etc.
MURCIR Conference on "Alternative Approaches to International Relations: Turkey and Beyond" invites individual paper abstracts for the thematic sessions specified above. The paper abstract (not exceeding 400 words) should include the title and the main findings of the article. The full application package should include the paper abstract, the applicant's short biography (not a detailed résumé) and contact info. All paper proposals should be submitted electronically to by June 15, 2011 .
Deadline for submitting paper abstracts: June 15, 2011
Notification of the applicants: July 10, 2011
Deadline for full paper submissions: October 10, 2011
Conference: November 24-25, 2011
MURCIR is unable to provide any travel or accommodation funding for individual presenters. We kindly remind that the invited session participants need to cover their own expenses in Istanbul for the duration of the conference (2 days).
Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Ken Booth
Director of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
Prof. Ayhan Kaya
Department of Political Science and International Relations, Istanbul Bilgi University
Prof. Chris Brown
Department of International Relations, London School of Economics
Assoc. Prof. Pýnar Bilgin
Department of International Relations, Bilkent University

Marmara University Research Center for International Relations (MURCIR) Marmara University Department of Political Science and International Relations Anadolu Hisarý, Beykoz, Istanbul Turkey
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