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Bibliography Political Theory And International Relations

Systemic theories are among the most influential and durable theories in the international-relations canon, largely because they seek to capture the most comprehensive understanding of their subject matter possible. Something substantial is lost, scholars in this tradition argue, by theorizing without taking into effect the behavior of all the major actors in the system—just as an understanding of astronomy built up from many partial theories of the behavior of individual planets would be much less intellectually satisfying and useful than the current, coherent systemic explanation. This comprehensive understanding of international relations is the great promise of systemic international-relations theory, and the authors of each of these works seek to realize it in different ways. Kaplan 1957, Wendt 1999, and Braumoeller 2012 focus most directly on the fundamental nature of the agent-structure relationship while remaining relatively agnostic about the forces that drive it, while Waltz 1979, Organski and Kugler 1980, Gilpin 1981, and Modelski 1987 more explicitly theorize about the drivers of state behavior. At the same time, Moravcsik 1997 takes the systemic realists among the latter group of authors to task for their one-dimensional view of state preferences.

  • Braumoeller, Bear F. The Great Powers and the International System: Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective. Cambridge Studies in International Relations 123. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511793967E-mail Citation »

    This book lays out a fully systemic theory—one in which agents have an impact on structure and vice versa—that connects domestic theories of the state, which focus on the preferences of leaders and constituencies, to the structure of the international system. The book is also noteworthy for its formal mathematical logic and for the extensive evaluation of the theory it proposes, using both statistical methods and detailed historical case studies.

  • Gilpin, Robert. War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511664267E-mail Citation »

    This book focuses on the relationship among relative power, prestige, and conflict—which generally emerges between the hegemon and the second-most-powerful state. Often overlooked, but one of the smartest and most nuanced systemic works in the realist school.

  • Kaplan, Morton A. System and Process in International Politics. New York: John Wiley, 1957.

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    A very early attempt at systemic international-relations theory, this work describes six ideal-typical international systems and the main characteristics of the actors that might inhabit them, before deriving conclusions about the likely behaviors of those systems.

  • Modelski, George. Long Cycles in World Politics. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1987.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-349-09151-5E-mail Citation »

    Argues that long cycles, corresponding to long-term shifts in economic and social activity, are responsible for the cyclical pattern of hegemonic war in the modern world.

  • Moravcsik, Andrew. “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics.” International Organization 51.4 (1997): 513–553.

    DOI: 10.1162/002081897550447E-mail Citation »

    Without calling it a systemic theory per se, Moravcsik lays the intellectual groundwork for a liberal theory of international politics—one that incorporates not just the capabilities of actors but their preferences as well.

  • Organski, A. F. K., and Jacek Kugler. The War Ledger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

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    A book that describes Organski’s “power transition theory,” a minimally systemic theory that predicts the timing of hegemonic wars on the basis of the relative capabilities of the two most powerful states in the system.

  • Waltz, Kenneth N. Theory of International Politics. New York: Random House, 1979.

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    Soon after its publication, this book became the bible of systemic theorizing in international relations. In contrast to earlier “human-nature” realism, it emphasized the importance of the structure of the international system and derived a range of (arguably) testable hypotheses from the realist micromotives of states—to wit, their interests described in terms of power. Reprinted as recently as 2010 (Long Grove, IL: Waveland).

  • Wendt, Alexander. Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge Studies in International Relations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511612183E-mail Citation »

    A seminal work in constructivist international relations and international relations in general, this book breaks away from the materialist mainstream of international-relations theorizing to establish a cultural theory of international politics. Building on his earlier claim that “anarchy is what states make of it” (p. 6), Wendt explores the implications for international relations of a range of different “cultures of anarchy.”

  • This section includes three types of contributions, most of which go beyond International Relations (IR) and political science. The first category examines the role of race in international politics and foreign policy. Lauren 1996 is perhaps the most influential overview of the role of race in international politics. It is appropriate as an undergraduate or graduate textbook. With five volumes, Krenn 1998 is the most comprehensive collection of essays on race and US foreign policy. A second category of studies offers (intellectual) histories of race and racism. Fredrickson 2002 is an excellent succinct survey of the emergence of racism in the modern West. Greer, et al. 2007 expands on Fredrickson to provide erudite analyses of the emergence of race and racism in Renaissance Europe in the context of global imperialism. Contra the conventional wisdom espoused by Fredrickson 2002 and Greer, et al. 2007 that racism is a modern invention, Isaac 2004 contends that racism, or at least proto-racism, was invented in the ancient world. Hall 2011 complements this literature, which is heavily focused on the West, by exploring the history of race in Muslim West Africa. One’s assessment of when exactly race and racism emerged in history is not independent from one’s theory of race. A third category of studies address theories of race. Glasgow 2009 is a clear and well-organized philosophical discussion of these theories, perhaps most importantly highlighting how ontological questions (Is race real? What is it made of?) are connected to normative questions (Should we eliminate or conserve racial discourse and thought?). Golash-Boza 2015 is a comprehensive critical study of crucial racial themes in the United States and beyond. It is also useful as a textbook. Back and Solomos 2008 is the most cited reader that brings together prominent racial theories, primarily from sociology.

  • Back, Les, and John Solomos, ed. Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    A collection of essays from prominent race scholars, mainly from sociology. The main themes included are social theory, racism and anti-racism, colonialism, feminism, identity, and changing boundaries and spaces.

  • Fredrickson, George M. Racism: A Short History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    An insightful and accessible survey of the emergence of racism in the West from its origins in medieval anti-Semitism.

  • Glasgow, Joshua. A Theory of Race. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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    A clear and systematic philosophical analysis of central debates in race scholarship. These include questions about whether race is real, whether it is biological or cultural, and whether we should eliminate or conserve racial discourse and thought.

  • Golash-Boza, Tanya Maria. Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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    A comprehensive critical study of crucial racial themes in the United States and beyond. It interrogates the idea of race and types of racisms, structural racism and inequalities, racialized immigration policies, and race, health, and the environment. It is appropriate as a textbook (particularly the brief edition).

  • Greer, Margaret R., Walter D. Mignolo, and Maureen Quilligan, eds. Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious and Racial Difference in the Renaissance Empires. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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    A rich collection of studies of early modern imperialisms. It illuminates Renaissance Europe’s invention of race and racism, which combined religious and color-coded elements.

  • Hall, Bruce S. A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600–1960. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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    Documents the history of race in Muslim West Africa, which has important current implications for conflict in the region.

  • Isaac, Benjamin H. The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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    Challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that racism is not a modern invention. Racism, or at least proto-racism, was common in ancient Greece and Rome.

  • Krenn, Michael L., ed. Race and US Foreign Policy from the Colonial Period to the Present. New York: Garland, 1998.

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    A comprehensive five-volume collection of essays on race and US foreign policy.

  • Lauren, Paul Gordon. Power and Prejudice: The Politics and Diplomacy of Racial Discrimination. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996.

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    This is perhaps the most influential overview of the role of race in international politics. It touches on the historical antecedents of race and racism, slavery, immigration exclusion, imperialism, the Holocaust, decolonization, South African apartheid, and the politics of race at the United Nations. Appropriate as an undergraduate or graduate textbook.

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