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Jonathan Rodwell - 'The Ongoing Poverty of Theory in Diplomatic History'

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Geoffrey Manton Building GM30

Rosamond Street West

Manchester

M15 6EB

United Kingdom

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Politics and International Relations Seminar Series

Date: Wednesday 13th March 2018

Time: 1.30pm – 3pm

Location: GM 302, Geoffrey Manton Building

Tickets: Free – available on Eventbrite

I

In 1959 William Appleman Williams wrote ‘The Tragedy of American Diplomacy’, regarded as one of the most influential works in the field of Diplomatic History. Tragedy seems an apt word for current US foreign policy. Today, some members of the US military in Afghanistan will have been born after that war began. The economic nationalism and mercantilism some thought were stories from the distant past are becoming current US economic policy. Successful multilateral treaties attempting to curb nuclear weapons and enhance regional relations have been abandoned. The US is actively undermining Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

This talk explores the extent to which US Diplomatic History as an academic field shares a degree of responsibility for this ‘tragedy’. Inspired by Appleman Williams, Bruce Cummings, and critiques that exist within the field of International Relations, the talk will demonstrate a lack of theoretical engagement within significant parts of Diplomatic History, as well as sometimes vocal misunderstanding of theoretical perspectives. This potential ‘poverty of theory’ produces a limited critical engagement with the nature and sources of US foreign policy which means that the field of Diplomatic History is more a supporter of US foreign policy than an attempt to critically explain or understand it.

Jonathan Rodwell is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at MMU. He has served both as foundation year coordinator and programme leader of Politics and IR. He currently coordinates the MP placement programme and helped to establish the International Relations degree programme at MMU. His research interests include diplomatic history, popular culture, technologization and the relevance of the philosophy of Donald Davidson for International Relations Theory.

Part of the Politics, International Relations and Public Services Research Seminar Series at Manchester Met.

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Geoffrey Manton Building GM30

Rosamond Street West

Manchester

M15 6EB

United Kingdom

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