Alker and IR: Global Studies in an Interconnected World (New International Relations)

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Alker and IR

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Charles C. The Social Science Jargon Buster. Zina O'Leary. Tony Bennett. To him, finding the formal logical solution to a game was insufficient for understanding the politics. Alker admonished researchers that people are complex and the only ontologically and epistemologically sound response is to avoid stripping away that complexity. He did not shy away from using computational methods [9] or formal logical tools [10], but he also drew upon textual interpretation [11].

His work teaches us that we must use all of the appropriate knowledge-making tools that we have from the social sciences but also and perhaps even more importantly from the humanities, in order to uncover the complex, contested narratives of life on this planet. In short, Alker makes us ask: What knowledge — what kind of evidence, what kind of data — do we need to make the world a better — a more peaceful, more just, more personally, socially, and ecologically healthier — place?

He was not particularly interested in quantified data — GDP, or the number of battle deaths. He was interested in the historical narratives that communities use to tell and retell what has transpired. Furthermore, he was particularly interested in how different communities understand and attach meaning and facticity to narratives in conflicting and overlapping ways. The subtle continuity in his research can be seen in his ethical commitment to peace and justice, which can be found in all of his research. Every project he undertook, from studies of the General Assembly in the s [12] in his social scientific period to the analysis of fairy tales in his latter period [13], was chosen with the aim of understanding how to make the world more peaceful and more just.

In his later work, he became more explicit about the role of normativity in global studies scholarship.

He focused on language and narratives for this purpose, and he envisioned an intentionally incomplete, revisable compilation of knowledge about the world from which one could seek means of resolving conflicts and finding peaceful solutions. Though much of US scholarship remains overly committed to positivistic, rationalist ideals that are ultimately unrealistic, some scholars in the US and many in the rest of the world are much more open to humanistic as well as social science methods, to normatively driven inquiry, and to complexity and multiple truths.