Historical Periods and the Act of Periodisation

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    Abstract

    Historical periods are a central part of how the field of international relations (IR) defines the subject of its analysis but also how it regards itself as a field of analysis. On the one hand, historical periods represent the temporal unfolding of specific (spatial) logics of interactions among various and differentiated political units in a space that come to define what the international is. On the other hand, historical periods are not simply a referential point the boundaries of which are set outside the writing of history. Quite the contrary, historical periods are constructed and as such offer a window into the practice of that writing in IR. The aim of this chapter therefore is to set some of the parameters to conceptualise and discuss the processes of periodisation by first seeing how historical periods, beyond their historical accuracies and robustness, should be seen as heuristic devices dependant on a scholar's working hypothesis. The chapter then reflects on why Historical IR tends to largely consider ‘remarkable’ periods – such as economic or systemic ruptures, or the (Western European) state. Finally, some of the challenges and invitations that could be further explored by Historical IR are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Historical International Relations
    EditorsJulia Costa Lòpez, Benjamin de Carvalho, Halvard Leira
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge
    Chapter52
    Pages562-570
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)9781351168960
    ISBN (Print)9780815347644
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2021

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