The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Things that Made you Really, Really Stop and Think….

December 13, 2012

Last summer some readers suggested that we run open-ended posts designed to spark discussion. So consider this another attempt to do so.

My challenge: (1) name the most thought provoking piece — or pieces — that you read this year dealing (in a broad sense) with international studies concerns and (2) justify its inclusion on such a list. I don’t mean pieces that you agreed with, or even that you thought were good. But pieces that made you think, do a gut-check about your existing views, or just stuck in your mind for a while.

I’ll name two.

First, Julian Go’s Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires 1688 to Present (2011). In addition to being a terrific crystallization of what’s wrong with so much of the American-empire debate, Go’s notion of global fields has really gotten me thinking about how to recast hegemonic-order theory.

Second, Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (2008). I was very late to this game, but beyond being one of those books that makes you go “whoah,” Anathem made me think long and hard about what, exactly, it means to be a scholar and the intersection between scholarly vocation and scholarly practice.

Awaiting your contributions ….

PS: My apologies for the lack of a linkage post this morning. We’ve moved to a distributed system for providing them, but seem to have gotten some wires crossed.



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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.