The Inter as Liminal Spaces: Prudence, Transience, and Affection

Felix Roesch

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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The field of IR has been described as an “‘inter’-type discipline,” in the sense that it is devoted to studying the interactions of different kinds of international actors (Lapid 1996, 10). However, despite the fact that the discipline has never been blind vis-à-vis the “in-between” (or relational) dimension of the subject matter (Kaiser 1971, 791; Rosenau 1990, 40–42; Kratochwil 2007, 502–3), much of the focus in recent years’ discussions has, in various ways, been directed to the inter-national in IR-theory. While acknowledging that this has alerted the discipline about the prevalent Western-centrism in much IR-theory and how it helped foster an awareness of the diversity of IR-communities around the globe, the present forum takes its point of departure in the view that in order to make the academic field of IR-theory worthy of its own name, it is now time to move the debate about global IR (Acharya 2014) a step further and connect it to what has been unearthed in recent decades’ mapping of IR around the globe. To succeed in this endeavor, this forum suggests that it is necessary to both refocus and recalibrate the “inter” in IR-theory. Thus, in addition to bringing attention back to the inter-national dimension of IR-theory, it is also necessary to examine the conditions that determine how relevant actors (e.g., scholars and practitioners) interact in producing knowledge about “the international,” that is, the forms, formats, and foci of intellectual interactions (cf. Rösch and Watanabe 2016; Acharya 2016).

In this introduction, we will first elaborate the background for this call in order to explain why it is necessary and how it relates to, but also aims at transcending, the discussions about (post)-Western IR-theory in recent decades. We conclude with a sketch of how a recalibration of the “inter” in IR-theory involves a range of dimensions to be taken into consideration and how these are examined in the various contributions to this forum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-309
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • international relations theory
  • liminality
  • difference
  • International Relations


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