Doing IPS, PhD seminar series 2020/21: Call for papers (DEADLINE EXTENDED)

Deadline EXTENDED to 12 June 2020


The ‘Doing IPS’ PhD Seminar Series introduces graduate students to research inspired by International Political Sociology’s  (IPS) commitment to challenge methodological and conceptual assumptions in their research disciplines, and ask new questions about transdisciplinary modes of enquiry. It will address the need for doctoral candidates to have a forum dedicated to IPS where they can: (1) present their work and receive feedback from peers and senior academics in the field, (2) engage with contemporary IPS research designs and debates, and (3) develop transdisciplinary and cross-institutional relationships with a view to facilitating further discussions and collaborations around common research themes. More widely, the series will strengthen the analysis and evaluation skills of early career researchers.

IPS is best conceptualised as a collective intellectual project that seeks to challenge the fundamental oppositions within traditional theorising, such as that between politics and society, the individual and the collective, structure and agency, internal and external, international and national or local.

IPS analyses tend to deploy a dual methodological approach: firstly, understanding the everyday as the primary site of power relations, practices and resistances, and secondly, thinking processually and relationally. A relational approach rejects stasis and the implicit sedimentation of power inherent within it, and a processual approach insists that it is the practices, rather than ‘pre-constituted’ entities, between actors that reveal the fields of forces in political and social life. An IPS approach, therefore, interrogates and analyses the dynamics, materialities, regimes of knowledge, etc. that constitute the phenomena that we encounter in the world around us.

Thinking and writing from an IPS tradition may best be described as an active process, with motion and movement a central concern. In place of fixed and unchanging phenomena, IPS emphasises flows, networks, conjunctures and connections, disjunctures and disconnections, tensions, frictions, accelerations, entanglements, crystallisations, relations, alterities, differences, and multiplicities.

Embracing the ‘messiness’ of social and political life, therefore, is crucial to IPS: it disavows the exclusionary and hierarchical modalities of thinking common to traditional International Relations and political science theorising. Transversal and intersecting, rather than hierarchical, thinking rejects boundaries between disciplines or knowledges, challenging the possibility of studying sociology without anthropology, politics without geography, criminology without history, and so on.

Scholars and scholarship employing an IPS approach has evolved and developed over the decades. Formative literature uses Bourdieusian theory to map the fields of various transnational elites and professionals. Contemporary IPS analyses embrace ethnographic and other anthropological and sociological methodologies, and employ a range of conceptual traditions, including (but not limited to) deconstruction, Foucauldian, postcolonial and decolonial, queer and feminist, assemblage and materiality, and critical race theory.  Broadly speaking, IPS asks, “what are the connections between the international, the political and the sociological?”

Themes in IPS

Established themes in IPS have included, but have not been limited to:

  • Innovations and interventions in critical theory and methodologies
  • Migration and borders/border management
  • Surveillance
  • Technology and STS (Science & Technology Studies)
  • Technologies of governance/the self
  • Resistance
  • Citizenship, sovereignty, and exception
  • Ethnography and fieldwork methodologies

This year, we are keen to push IPS forward and make productive links between our established themes and scholarship and developments in IR and sociology. With that in mind, we particularly welcome papers that speak to:

  • Critical race theory
  • Coloniality
  • Queer, trans, and feminist theory and analyses
  • Carceral/police state and abolition
  • Racial capitalism
  • Events, issues or sites beyond Europe or North America/the West broadly defined
  • Innovative methodologies that prioritise mobility, lines, pathways, structures, movements, intersections, conjunctures, disjunctures, circuits, patterns, transversality, flows, becoming

Doing IPS Seminar Series – Programme and Structure

The series runs over a period of 10-12 months starting from September usually meeting on the last Friday of each month for two hours. The exact time will be determined based on the preferences of the accepted participants. The seminars will rotate between the three host institutions (King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London, and London School of Economics and Political Science), with sessions streamed virtually where possible (see also: Key information below).

Welcome and IPS open discussion
Our first session of the year will take the format of an open discussion where all are welcome. We will structure discussion around some open questions that cover IPS concepts, theories, and methodologies. For new members, we will give some introductory remarks and recommendations for reading.

Standard sessions
In each two-hour seminar, two participants will present a piece of work-in-progress (around 8000-10,000 words of a thesis chapter, book chapter, journal manuscript) to the group and invite a senior academic as discussant. The discussion will be followed by questions and answers with the audience. Each presenter is allocated one hour, and all participants are expected to have read the papers in advance. Presenters are encouraged to invite their supervisors and colleagues interested in their work.

Non-standard sessions
We are committed to developing our members’ intellectual and professional development. We also run writing retreats and special sessions that are organised ad hoc throughout the year. We are very keen to gather and accommodate requests for sessions that will be of interest to the wider group. Please email us on with your suggestions.

Key information

  • We accept applications from doctoral students in any discipline across the social sciences and humanities.
  • Please be aware that this is a forum for extensive and engaged discussion of your work; if you are planning on presenting near to the time you will be submitting your thesis, please make us aware when you apply.
  • We are aware that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has impacted us all as scholars and in our personal lives in myriad ways–ill physical health, mental health issues, financial and time pressures, childcare and caring duties, to name but a few. We are very much understanding of these changing circumstances and are committed to being as flexible as possible in whatever way we can. If you’re facing a problem that impacts your ability to engage with our group, please feel free to contact us.
  • Limited travel and accommodation grants are available for travel to London if necessary.

How to apply (deadline EXTENDED: Friday 12 June 2020 at 12:00pm BST)

Applications to the PhD seminar series should include:

  • A short bio (name, institutional affiliation, the year of your PhD, prospective thesis submission date, key words that describe your research interests)
  • How does your work relate to IPS (broadly defined)? (1-5 short sentences max.)
  • Abstract of the work you want to present (250 words)
  • Whether you would like to apply for a travel/accommodation grant (if you live outside of London)

Please send your application to

The deadline for applications is Friday, 5 June 2020 at 12pm BST. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by mid-June.

Please email us at if you have any questions or queries.

Doctoral student organisers

  • Lucy Thomas, Department of War Studies, King’s College London
  • Hannah Owens, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London
  • Olivia Nantermoz, Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science

Senior academic organisers

  • Audrey Alejandro, Assistant Professor of Qualitative Text Analysis, Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Jef Huysmans, Professor of International Politics, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London