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Another Harry Potter and International Relations review

March 25, 2008

With all of the important developments in world politics in need ripe for thoughtful self-important analysis at the Duck, why am I posting another review of Harry Potter and International Relations? Because I can.

Frank A. Stengel in Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft:

The study of popular culture is slowly gaining ground within the discipline of International Relations. Not only are more and more teachers discovering movies, music, and so on, as educational tools, but ever more researchers are systemically examining how pop culture influences, and is influenced by, international politics and foreign policy.2 One recent addition to this body of literature is Harry Potter and International Relations. Edited by Daniel H. Nexon and Iver B. Neumann, this volume comprises nine articles written by scholars and students from different academic backgrounds who discuss various aspects of the International Relations/pop culture connection. Its aim is not only to address the »Harry Potter phenomenon« from an International Relations perspective but also – and more importantly – to demonstrate the relevance of pop culture for the study of world

Indeed, as the editors demonstrate in their introduction, the connection is stronger and more multi-faceted than one might at first expect. […A lot of detail about the book…]

Overall, Harry Potter and International Relations is a highly convincing plea for taking seriously the role of popular culture in world politics. The volume, far from being merely an entertaining read, makes a significant contribution to the field by examining unstudied aspects of the important, but often neglected, connection between pop culture and international politics. Furthermore, using Harry Potter as a lens, the authors offer fresh perspectives on a broad range of International Relations topics. Although a concluding chapter might have added to the book’s coherence by summarizing the findings and »connecting the dots,« this does not bar the book from being highly recommendable for International Relations students and scholars alike (even those firmly rooted in the »Muggle« world). Due to the authors’ comprehensible writing style, the book is suitable not only for academics but also for non-scholarly Harry Potter fans with an interest in world politics. One caveat remains, though: while understanding most of the book does not require prior expertise in International Relations, at least some familiarity with the Harry Potter universe is indispensable.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.