Existentialism and international relations: In it up to our necks

Andrew R. Hom, Cian O'Driscoll*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

What, this essay asks, is the relation between contemporary IR scholarship and the existentialist intellectual and cultural tradition? How is our discipline informed and animated by existentialist thinking? Is existentialism a heritage to be recovered, claimed, and embraced by IR scholars, or a shadow to be escaped? And what resources does it furnish us for thinking through the kind of issues that IR scholars are called upon to grapple with today? These questions are not purely theoretical. There are practical and political reasons, not only for considering them, but for considering them now. Living through what has been termed an unfolding ‘Age of Anxiety’, we find ourselves confronted by existential questions and existentialist ideas at almost every turn. It is, however, unclear how substantive or meaningful this apparently existentialist moment truly is. Does existentialism have something to say to contemporary IR, or does it flatter to deceive? We think the time is ripe to take stock of existentialism as it relates to IR and global politics. This is the purpose of this article and of the collection of essays it introduces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-794
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number5
Early online date5 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • existentialism
  • disciplinary history
  • IR theory
  • crisis


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