Government and International Relations Colloquium Series

The Department of Government and International Relations Colloquium Series aims to showcase recent research by members of the Department, visiting scholars and international and interstate guests in an informal setting, conducive to lively debate. It is an open event and everyone is welcome to attend. If you would like to be informed of future events then please contact who will add your name to our email list. The Series is coordinated by .

Semester 1, 2016

Thursday 3 March 2016, 12-1.30pm
Speaker: Professor Brian Woodall
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
Topic: Energy Security, Environmental Angst, and Japan’s Evolving Developmental State

Many assumed that the Fukushima nuclear crisis would dictate a swift, dramatic reconfiguration of the institutional infrastructure of Japanese energy policy. Yet, to date, changes have been surprisingly modest. Moreover, despite compelling reasons to do so, Japanese policymakers and business leaders have yet to embrace a strategy that fully exploits renewable energy resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and expands cleantech capabilities and use. Why not? The central thesis of this study is that these and other puzzling counterfactuals of Japanese energy policymaking derive from institutional hangover, structural rigidities, and path dependence that are by-products of Japan’s postwar approach to economic development. Although the basic institutional architecture of Japanese energy policy has been overhauled only a handful of times, each instance was precipitated by mounting discontent over the environmental consequences – and other “social costs” – of energy policy choices. This research employs an unique brand of institutionalist theory to explain the ongoing saga and broad implications of Japan’s energy policy choices and their environmental consequences.

About the speaker: Prof Brian WoodallBrian Woodall is a professor in Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and has held faculty positions at the University of California at Irvine and at Harvard University as well as visiting appointments at the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Tōhoku University. His major publications include Growing Democracy in Japan: The Parliamentary Cabinet System Since 1868, Japan Under Construction: Corruption, Politics, and Public Works, and Japan's Changing World Role, and, as co-editor and contributor, Elections in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan Under the Single Non-Transferable Vote. He has received funding support from the Fulbright Commission (U.S. Japan Educational Commission), Coca-Cola Foundation, U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, the Abe Fellowship Program of the Social Science Research Council, the University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, and the Japan Foundation. His current research explores issues related to Japanese and East Asian energy and environmental policies.
Venue: Room 397, Merewether H04 [map]


Thursday 10 March 2016, 12-1.30pm
Speaker: Dr Ryan Griffiths
University of Sydney
Topic: Between Eurocentrism and Babel: A Framework for the Analysis of States, State Systems, and International Orders

Abstract TBA

About the speaker: Griffiths_RyanGriffiths' research focuses on two related areas. The first examines the dynamics of secession with a particular emphasis on the international and domestic causes of secessionist conflict over time. He has recently begun a second book that looks at the relationship between democracy and secessionist outcomes, a project that is being funded by an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award. The second research area investigates the organization of the international system, with a specific interest in sovereignty and different types of political order, historically and in the future. Griffiths is one of the lead investigators on the International System(s) Dataset (ISD) Project, an effort supported by an ARC Discovery Grant.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]


Thursday 24 March 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Professor Gideon Aran
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Topic: Suicide Terrorism: Alternative perspective

Abstract TBA

About the speaker: Professor Gideon_AranGideon Aran is a professor of sociology and anthropology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His field of expertise is the social scientific study of religion, on the one hand, and extremism, militancy and violence, on the other hand. In recent years he focused his teaching and writing on the intersection where the above two meet, namely fundamentalism and contemporary as well as historical forms of ultra-religiosity; oppositional underground cells; political (Ethno-National) charismatic radical cults; and religious terrorism, in various Western and Middle Eastern contexts, especially in the Jewish/Israeli one and with regard to the conflict with the Palestinians in particular.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]


Thursday 14 April 2016, 12-1:30pm
Speaker: Dr Alex Prichard
University of Exeter
Topic: Occupy Anarchy! A reply to Jack Donnelly's 'The Discourse of Anarchy in IR'

Jack Donnelly recently argued that because anarchy is not a transhistorical feature of international systems, and because research geared around the concept has produced no new insights, that anarchy fails as a key concept for the field. IR should, he argues, revert to using anarchy in its common or garden sense, to mean peril and disorder. I disagree. I argue that Donnelly's literalist approach to concept analysis closes down how we might understand the use of anarchy in IR theory. Deploying a contextualist approach to concepts, I re-read Waltz to show that anarchy is fundamentally about freedom and security, not a variable or 'demarcation criteria'. I use this re-reading of Waltz to lead into discussion of anarchist accounts of anarchy and argue that for anarchists anarchy is the ontological precondition of politics and freedom as such. For anarchists, like Waltz, defending anarchy is central to defending an account of freedom and security. Where anarchists and Waltz part company is around the relative merits of the state and capitalism to that end. Reverting to an account of anarchy as peril and disorder plays into the hands of the statist, Hobbesian discourse that Donnelly nominally rejects.

About the speaker: alex_prichardDr Alex Prichard was appointed lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter in 2012. He was previously LSE Fellow in International Political Theory (2010-2012), an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bristol (2009-2010), and before that a Teaching Fellow and Research Officer at the University of Bath (2008-2009). In 2005 he co-founded the PSA Anarchist Studies Network, and in 2012 he co-founded and now co-edit the monograph series 'Contemporary Anarchist Studies', published by Manchester University Press and distributed in the USA by Oxford University Press. The series is the only one dedicated to contemporary writing on anarchist theory and practice. Full details on how to submit manuscript proposals can be found on the MUP website.
Venue: Room 397 Merewether building, H04 [map]