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In 2019, the French Association of Political Science (Association Française de Science Politique) has published a warning message on the "decline of political theory and the history of ideas". Would you say that this is a relevant observation for academia in your country?
What ought political theorists in France and their allies in other countries make of the AFSP's issuing a warning regarding the "decline of political theory and the history of ideas"? Writing as a political theorist in the US, I'm impressed that the Association sees something worth acknowledging and feels compelled to send up a flare. But what prompted this warning? How would a professional association—or a scholar, graduate student, or undergraduate scholar of political theory—perceive the decline of a field?
From where I stand, as a political theorist in a leading public research university in the United States, political theory is declining by some measures and flourishing by others. Consider the emergence and maturing of Comparative Political Theory, no longer synonymous with merely reading "non-Western" political texts but with contesting this very distinction between what does and does not count as Western. Consult the remarkable work that recasts pillars of liberalism—property, founding, equality, liberty—as techniques of colonialism. Count the articles featuring feminist, critical race, and environmental scholarship (you will need more than one hand). Consider also how far beyond close reading and intellectual history today's practice of political theory ranges to engage in archival research, short, timely responses to cultural crises, qualitative interviews, and more…

  • Political theory
  • political science
  • graduate education
Lisa Disch
Lisa Disch is Professor of Political Science and teaches political theory at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (US). She is the author of Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy (Cornell University Press 1994), The Tyranny of the Two-Party System (Columbia University Press 2002), and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (Oxford University Press 2016) and The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). She recently published Making Constituencies: Representation as Mobilization in Mass Democracy (The University of Chicago Press, 2021).
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Uploaded on on 27/01/2022
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