Australian Scholarship, International Relations and the Environment: Commitment, Critique and Contestation

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Australian scholarship on "International Relations and the environment" rests on the shoulders of a comparatively small number of researchers. Their contribution to scholarly debate and policy analysis, however, belies the numbers. The corpus thus produced offers both breadth, through the range of environmental issues explored, and depth through a strong commitment to theoretical inquiry and a willingness to challenge and defy traditional disciplinary boundaries. Underpinning this is a recognition that the agenda of "IR and the environment" has long moved beyond policy-tracing analysis of inter-state cooperation, diplomatic negotiations and multilateral institutions. Robust intellectual, conceptual and empirical "conversations" on global environmental issues mean that there are often points of divergence among those working in this field. Nevertheless, the Australian scholarly output on International Relations and the environment can be characterized by three important themes: a critique of neoliberalism, a commitment to ethical inquiry (and, indeed, to a politics of solidarity) that reveals a complex politics of knowledge, discourse and power; and a disciplinary heterodoxy accompanied by a critical interrogation of theoretical constructs and organizing principles embedded in ideas about the state, sovereignty and security. This is not, I argue here, an interest in theory for theory's sake. Rather, Australian scholarship on International Relations and the environment is motivated by real concerns about how best to protect the environment and by a real commitment to those who are most affected by the ecological, social and economic consequences of environmental change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)394-414
    JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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