Columba Achilleos-Sarll

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A Pakistani woman touches a photograph of Malala Yousafzai during a ceremony to mark “Malala Day” in Lahore on November 10, 2012. Photo by Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images.

The visual politics of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda is profoundly understudied in the WPS literature. Although inextricably linked to words, the image is politically significant, and deserves scholarly attention in its own right.

‘Seeing’ is not a neutral act but is infused with power relations that exist at the intersection between the viewer and the subject/object being represented. Indeed, ‘seeing’ is co-constitutive of power relations including, but not limited to, gender, ‘race’, and coloniality, which affect how we interpret images. The way we ‘see’ — as well as what we do and don’t see — enables particular forms of knowing which condition political action. Thus, while what the camera captures may be ‘real’, its focus and interpretation will always be partial and personal. …


Editorial Team

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Photo of Chatham House, 28 November 2016. Photo Credit: US Embassy London via flickr.

In 2020 Chatham House marked its centenary year, against a political context no less tumultuous than that of its founding. In 1920 the world was slowly beginning to rebuild after the devastation of the First World War and ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic. International organizations such as the League of Nations were emerging as ambitious but flawed attempts to strengthen multilateral ties and avert future conflict, and the global economy was yet to begin the fragile recovery which would later facilitate the ‘roaring twenties’. The parallels with today’s global health and economic crises are provocative.

Throughout the past year we have delved into the International Affairs archive to find out what policy issues concerned the decision-makers and academics of the past. You can take a look at our rundown of 100 significant articles here. In this blogpost, we’re going to reflect on what we found in the archive. We will highlight the striking continuities in our subject matter coverage, but also consider the journey taken by both the journal and the institute from their imperial origins to the present day.


Kerry F. Crawford and Leah Windsor

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Photo: Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images

In our research and throughout the 50:50 in 2020 blog series, we emphasize the importance of recognizing academic parents. In this piece, we are hoping to highlight the obstacles and considerations that are unique to the parents who are actively in the process of growing their families. We strongly assert that the academy should recognize scholars as whole people, similar to the standards set by certain industries. Family formation has long been a women’s issue subject to strong cultural taboos around women’s bodies. …


Chris Dolan, Maria Eriksson-Baaz, Maria Stern

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People march through the streets of Lyon to protest against gender-based and sexual violence, 24 November 2018. Photo: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Paradoxically, the idea that sexual violence is somehow sexual has been largely silenced in academic, policy and media arenas. Dominant notions that Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) serves as a weapon or tactic of war that is not motivated by sexual desire or pleasure persist, despite a growing cadre of criticism. CRSV therefore appears as already understood, and questions about the sexual aspect of sexual violence are rarely posed, especially to those who have endured — and continue to endure — its harms.

Indeed, surprisingly little attention has been paid at all to how survivors of CRSV, themselves, make sense of their experiences and the injury that such violence causes, despite growing calls for survivor-centered initiatives and scholarship. Even less attention is paid to what survivors deem to be sexual about the violence to which they were subjected, how they comprehend perpetrators’ motives or experiences, and how their sense-making influences their perception of themselves as victims. …


Editorial Team

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After the year we’ve had we want nothing better than to curl up with a book. Here are our picks of the top 10 books reviewed in International Affairs in 2020 hand-picked by the editorial team. Below you will find books that offer interesting discussions on Indian foreign policy, environmental destruction, gendered theorizations of the state and much more besides.

1) Worldmaking after empire: the rise and fall of self-determination


Selina Ho

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Indonesian visitors looking at scale models of Chinese-made bullet trains at a shopping mall in Jakarta, August 13, 2015. BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images.

Chinese diplomacy under President Xi Jinping’s ‘New Era’ has been aimed at achieving dominance over the countries along its borders. In particular, Xi has strengthened China’s structural and discursive power. Structural power means domination: that is, the weaker state accepts its asymmetrical disadvantages vis-à-vis the stronger state, and subordinates its own interest to the stronger state’s, even without coercion from the latter. Discursive power is the use of discourse to create meaning, and constitute identity and interest.


Joseph Hills

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A wind-blown American flag at the Tear Drop 9/11 memorial flies over the skyline of New York City, 3 May 2020. Photo: Getty Images

Amidst a deluge of legal challenges and refusals to concede from the incumbent administration, Joe Biden has begun his transition to the White House. Some of the President-elect’s earliest cabinet nominations were among his national security team. In this blogpost we take a look at recent work in International Affairs on US foreign relations to identify the key issues facing the incoming Biden administration.

Rethinking the liberal international order

The next administration will face a daunting challenge given the fragile position of the US as leader of the liberal international order. Undoubtedly some blame for the current state of affairs can be attributed to the highly erratic leadership of the Trump administration. …


Hannah Elyse Sworn and Hoo Tiang Boon

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Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen waves to assembled guests from the deck of the ‘Ming Chuan’ frigate during a ceremony to commission two Perry-class guided missile frigates from the US into the Taiwan Navy, in the southern port of Kaohsiung on November 8, 2018. Photo by Chris Stowers/AFP via Getty Images.

Amidst the whirlwind of celebration and protest surrounding Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump, questions on the implications of the election for America’s foreign policy abound. One pressing challenge Biden will face is managing relations with China and Taiwan. America has played a crucial role in balancing tensions between Beijing and Taipei since 1950 through a longstanding policy of strategic ambiguity. By taking a deliberately ambiguous position regarding intervention in a potential conflict across the Taiwan Strait, the US discourages either side from actions that could ignite war. …


Liam O’Shea

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New officers from Nigerian Police Formed Unit serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) listen to speaches during their arrival at Aden Abdulleh Airport to take part in the peacekeeping operation in Somalia on January 6, 2016. AMISOM Photo / Ilyas Ahmed via flickr.

Throughout October Nigeria has been rocked by protests, following reports of the shooting of an unarmed young man by members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). This follows a decades-long pattern of police abuse and points to systemic challenges. The #EndSARS movement also marks a moment which may be ripe for police reform.

Lessons from previous international police reform efforts can benefit Nigeria but donors should also consider supporting Nigeria’s civil society organizations to seize the moment. Reform is too important to leave in the hands of state elites. Indeed, successful democratic reform requires an ongoing dialogue with civil society.

Lessons from western contexts

One challenge reformers face is that while most know what they want from reform, it is much less clear how to get there. Despite ongoing contestation around western policing in recent years, evidence on police reform from western contexts provides useful pointers. …


Morena Skalamera

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Oil is transported by pipeline and rail to the port of Aktau, Kazakhstan, for export to neighbouring countries, 8 April 2007. Photo: Getty Images

The rapid rise of commercially viable renewable energy worldwide presents encouraging opportunities for sustainable growth. However, as the transition to clean energy gains momentum the details pointing to a rocky future for oil-producing nations are lost in the headlines. While the demand-side ramifications of the global low-carbon transition are widely discussed, little consideration has been given to the inevitable implications of this process for hydrocarbons producers, particularly in central Asia. …

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International Affairs

A leading journal of international relations, edited at Chatham House. Subscribe at http://cht.hm/2iztRyb. Follow for analysis on the latest global issues.

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