Classical Realism meets Critical Theory Network held third workshop at Virginia Tech, USA on 'The Nuclear Condition'

The Network, in cooperation with our partner in the US, Prof. Timothy W. Luke, held its third workshop in Virginia Tech, USA, with the theme 'The Nuclear Condition.' The third workshop was designed to stimulate policy-orientated analyses of social and political issues, relationships, and strategies which exist under the nuclear condition. Leading academics and researchers working on the theme were invited to respond to, among others, the following questions: 

  • What are the consequences for the "nuclear condition" following the dissolution of old ‘East/ West’ ideological blocs and geopolitical frictions into a more multipolar, global, and fragmented world?
  • How should one assess the agency of new state, non-state, corporate, and non-governmental organizations that are develop-ing different understandings of how nuclear weapons should be designed, manufactured, operated, and/or used?
  • What are, and how does one assess, new systemic approaches to, and new technologies for, the weaponizing of nuclear materials by non-state militias, transnational firms, scientific networks, superpower militaries, or radical terrorists?
  • What are the consequences of the new nuclear condition for the governing of nuclear weaponry?
  • How does knowledge of the new "nuclear condition" impact thinking about international politics and about the options that global actors have?

The presenters and the titles of their presentation were:

Campbell Craig (Aberystwyth University) 'Classical Realism for the Twenty-First Century'

Daniel Deudney (Johns Hopkins University) 'Nuclear One-Worldism Revisited'

Anne I. Harrington (Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich) 'On the Luxury of Restraint: Power, Violence, and Nuclear Weapons'

Daniel Levine (University of Alabama) 'Reasons of State' in the Nuclear Age: Realism's Lapse into Melodrama?

Rens van Munster (Danish Institute of International Studies) and Casper Sylvest (Southern Denmark University) 'Re-imagining Reality: Realism under a Dark Sun'

Columba Peoples (University of Bristol) 'Immanent Critique in the Nuclear Age'

Patrick Roberts (Virginia Tech) 'Nuclear Emergency Response as the Cavalry versus an Electronic Militia: Comparing the IAEA and CTBTO's response to Fukushima'

Sonja Schmid (Virginia Tech) 'A New "Nuclear Normalcy"?'

The fourth and final workshop is scheduled in January 2016 at Aberyswyth University and will be co-hosted by Prof Richard Beardsworth.


PhD workshop, Newcastle University, September 10 and 11, 2015.

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust as part of the international research project “Classical Realism Meets Critical Theory"
“Unlearning” International Relations in global perspectives
General thematic outline
This postgraduate workshop has as its central focus the theme of “Unlearning IR orthodoxies”. “Unlearning” is understood as a process not dissimilar to deconstruction, as its aim is to critique and to transcend orthodox  IR, which not only preconditions intellectual thought processes in the discipline but also affects everyday knowledge. In doing so, “unlearning” is a learning process designed to free oneself from orthodox IR. The process is informed and guided through one or more of the following four distinctive attempts and aspirations: (1) historiographic studies and/or (2) intercultural alternative imaginations of politics as well as through reflecting about (3) the role of the political subject and/or (4) the search for communicating non-orthodox, critical IR in and beyond academia. In such processes of “Unlearning”, epistemological and ontological commitments from classical realism and/or critical theory (both widely understood) appear useful. Empirically, such unpacking can look into a wide array of case studies, including popular culture, security studies, foreign policy, environment, social media, technology, the public sphere, mass society/mass democracies.
Sample questions are:
In which ways can unlearning help us to readdress subjectivity in a global context by going beyond reductionist accounts?
What are implications of “unlearning IR orthodoxy” for constructing global spaces that perceive difference not as a threat, but as an opportunity?
Is popular culture a viable way to unlearn a modern imaginary and mainstream? Is popular culture a means or an end in this respect?
How do theoretical “renegades” (cf. Martin Wight becoming an English School theorist) contribute to processes of unlearning?
Can unlearning constitute a method to experience and engage in intercultural encounters that add to and go beyond (post-)colonial constructions of such encounters?
Can unlearning neo-realism through Critical IR theory (broadly understood) provide a fruitful theoretical perspective for Foreign Policy-makers?
How do processes of unlearning relate to commitments to re-readings and theoretical progress?
How do we strike a balance between the usage of “terminology” and “jargon” when communicating critical IR and classical realist theories to the public?
Abstract submission is now closed.
The workshop is scheduled over two days, 10 and 11 September 2015, and allocates 30 minutes for each presentation, including comments rom the discussant and general Q and A. Each presenter is expected to submit a 20,000-word document by end of July. This can be a draft chapter of the Phd dissertation, a manuscript for a journal submission, etc. 
The workshop is fully funded with a £200 travel and accommodation grant for each presenter. 

Second Network workshop held at Ottawa University, June 20-21,2014

 Resized Second Workshop Photo

The Network’s second workshop was a success thanks to  the commitment of all participants and the generous support of our Network Partner, Prof Michael C. Williams and The Leverhulme Trust. The workshop titled “Classical Realism meets Critical Theory: Philosophies, Practices, Politics”, was held at the University of Ottawa on June 20-21, 2014. The workshop provided an opportunity to fine tune the papers that were initially presented in the 2013 Newcastle workshop. These papers will be published in a special issue of the journal International Political Theory by professors Hartmut Behr and Michael C. Williams as guest editors. The common focus of all papers is, first, an interlocution between classical realism and critical theory and, second, the development of a normative political framework that emerges from this interlocution. The special issue will appear in late 2015 and include papers by Ned and David Lebow, Timothy Luke, Richard Beardsworth, Vibeke Schou Tjalve, Felix Roesch, Kamila Stullerova, and Hartmut Behr. 



Network Members @ the ISA 2014 

Our Network partners and members will be attending the annual convention of the International Studies Association in Toronto, Canada from 26-29 March 2014. Some activities of our members at the conference are listed below, for the full programme please click the link: Conferences/Toronto2014/Toronto+2014+-+Program.pdf 

Vibeke Schou Tjalve 
Wednesday 4:00-5.45: "Why Does Hans Morgenthau Matter Now?" 
Thursday 8.15-10:00 "The Political Discourse of History: Fifteen Years of IR History Reconsid-ered" 

Hartmut Behr 
Wednesday 1:45-3:30 “Morgenthau in America” 
Wednesday 4:00-5.45: "Why Does Hans Morgenthau Matter Now?" 

Timothy Luke 
Saturday 1:45-3:30 “What Does Critical Environmental Politics Look Like?” 

Sean Molloy 
Friday 1:45- 3:30 “Political Theology and International Relations” 

Michael C. Williams 
Wednesday 4:00-5:45 Critical Security Studies Methods Café 
Thursday 10:30- 12:15 Theorizing Security Communication and Democracy 

Lene Hansen 
Wednesday 4:00-5:45 Critical Security Studies Methods Café 
Saturday 10:30 -12:15 “War and Security or War/security: Critically Reassessing Boundaries 

Richard Beardsworth 
Thursday 8:15-10:00 “Intergenerational Global Ethics” 

Ned Lebow 
Wednesday 10:30-12:15 “Counterfactuals in International Relations: Making Sense of Complexity - or Adding Noise to the Signals?”


Critical Theory and Classical Realism Network- First Newsletter Published

Download pdf (2mb):October Newsletter

The first newsletter of the Network is now available for download, see link above.  This issue contains information about the first workshop held at Newcastle University on 1-2 June 2013 and a link to audio recording of the workshop proceedings. Some information about our Network members' activities at the annual convention of the ISA in March 2014 are also included.

You can browse through  our Publications section to see the research interests of our Network members. If your own work involves the two frameworks applied in the following thematic areas: environment and risk; security, conflict, and development, and; rule of law, globalization, and the public sphere, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email to Kristinne Sanz [kristinne.sanz(at)] or Prof Hartmut Behr [hartmut.behr(at)].



Prof Hartmut Behr (Newcastle) and Dr Seán Molloy (Kent) are editors of the special issue of International Politics (No. 6, 2013) titled "Realism Reconsidered: New Contexts and Critiques."

Table of Contents

Ned Lebow

Hartmut Behr/Seán Molloy

Context and Appropriation: Risks, Benefits, and Challenges of Reinterpretive Expression
Brent Steele

Classical Realist Concepts in Philosophical Context

'Common Sense’, Thomas Reid and Realist Epistemology in Hans J. Morgenthau
Hartmut Behr

‘Cautious Politics’: Morgenthau and Hume’s Critiques of the Balance of Power
Seán Molloy

Realism, Pragmatism and the Public Sphere: Restraining Foreign Policy in an Age of Mass Politics
Vibeke Schou Tjalve

The Realist Revival in Political Philosophy, or: Why New is Not Always Improved
William E. Scheuerman

Critical-Historical Investigations of Twentieth Century Realism

Realism as Social Criticism: The Thinking Partnership of Hannah Arendt and Hans Morgenthau
Felix Rösch

Mind the Gap between Nationalism and International Relations: Power and the Nation State in EH Carr’s Realism
Kostas Kostagiannis

Necessary Fiction: Realism’s Tragic Theology
Vassilios Paipais

Waltz and the World: Neorealism as International Political Theory?
Adam Humphreys

Pointing to the Future: Critical Theory Meets Realism

Working Towards Critical Realism: Scientific Man, Power Politics, and Democratic Decline
Timothy W. Luke


Prof Richard Beardsworth joining Aberystwyth University in September 2013

Prof Richard Beardsworth has been recenly appointed as Chair of International Politics, Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University and will start on this new role in September 2013. He is leaving the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University.


International Conference: 'Emancipatory Realism: Ken Booth and the Discipline of International Relations’ at Aberystwyth University

The Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University will host an international conference ‘Emancipatory Realism: Ken Booth and the Discipline of International Relations’ on 15–16 March 2013. The conference aims to examine Ken Booth’s contribution to International Relations Theory and Critical Security Studies and to explore the openings his work has created, including the ground-breaking notion of security as emancipation.

The papers address a range of topics, including the relationship between Booth’s realism and Critical Theory, the notion of global security, new security dilemmas, and the question of emancipatory violence.  

For more information, please, contact the organisers at


Dr. Seán Molloy moving to University of Kent

Dr. Seán Molloy, a Network Partner, has moved from the University of Edinburgh to take a Readership at the University of Kent. For details of Dr. Molloy's research interests and publications, please consult his new web page at


Network Members at the 2013 ISA Annual Convention

Members of the research network Classical Realism Meets Critical Theory were at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA) held in San Francisco, California from 3-6 April 2013.

Hartmut Behr and Felix  Rösch were on a roundtable titled Morgenthau, Realism and the Concept of the Political based on the book they have co-edited (Hans J. Morgenthau, The Concept of the Political). The event was chaired by Knud Erik Jorgensen and sponsored by the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).

Rens van Munster (DIIS) and Casper Sylvest (SDU) presented a paper titled 'Beyond Deterrence: Nuclear Realism, the H-Bomb and Globality.' Beyond Deterrence: Nuclear Realism, the H-Bomb and Globality (pdf, 560kb). Please do not quote or circulate without authors' permission. Contact Casper Sylvest: csy[at]

Michael C. Williams (University of Ottawa) presented a paper titled 'Redeeming Evil' on the ISA panel Rethinking Realism and Rationalism.


Network Members at the 2013 BISA Annual Conference

The 2013 BISA conference was held this year at Birmingham with the theme "Beyond the Ivory Tower: IR and the Real World". Present were two Network Members, Dr Seán Molloy and Dr Kamila Stullerova.

Dr Molloy convened a panel on "IR Theory after Liberalism: Realism and Political Theology in a Post-Secular Age" and presented a paper titled "E.H. Carr, Reinhold Niebuhr and the Problem of Immoral Society in IR."

Dr Kamila Stullerova presented a paper titled "The concept of security as Ethical Paradox" using the work of Judith Shklar – considered by many as key realist political theorist – to explore ethical aspects of security via Shklar’s notion of ‘cruelty as the worst evil’.