Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Feminist international relations and the ‘science question’: Positivism, post-positivism, and beyond

Feminist International Relations and the ‘Science Question’: Positivism, Post-positivism, and Beyond

One-day workshop (20th October, 2018) at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
This workshop aims to (1) bring together scholars with an interest and expertise in the philosophy of (social) science and/or feminist IR, (2) explore the present-day relationship between (social) science and feminist IR, (3) reflect on the future of this relationship, and (4) stimulate the creation of a research community that explores this relationship.
Specifically, this call for papers invites abstract submissions that explore such questions as:
  • Is positivist IR androcentric/masculinist or have feminist IR scholars portrayed its philosophical and methodological orientation in inaccurate/misleading ways?
  • Is science only superficially or inadvertently androcentric/masculinist or does it inescapably silence and delegitimise feminist forms of knowing/knowledge-production?
  • How should feminist IR scholars relate to the knowledge-claims of natural scientists?
  • Should (evolutionary) biology play any role in our understandings of sex/gender-dynamics?
  • Is the philosophical orientation that has been adopted by feminist IR scholars genuinely post-positivist or does it inadvertently reproduce (or invert) a number of positivist positions?
  • Does the adoption of a feminist orientation towards IR mean that we should abandon rationality, rigour, neutrality, objectivity, etc. wholesale, just because these notions are conventionally associated with positivist philosophy of (social) science? Or is this akin to throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater?
  • Are the methodological and epistemological stances that are favoured by feminist scholars exclusively feminist or are they simply more suitable for their particular purposes (i.e. do they have broader applications as well)?
  • Do efforts to re-theorise/reclaim science by pragmatist, critical realist, new materialist, and other anti-positivist approaches hold any promise for grounding future forms of feminist IR?
  • Can broader feminist theorisations of science improve/re-vitalise discussions within feminist IR? What intellectual resources do these theorisations provide?
  • To what extent are positivist and post-/anti-positivist philosophical approaches capable of providing a basis for the normative aims of feminism? What kind of politics do these philosophical approaches suggest/imply?
  • Is feminism/feminist IR a political project, a scientific project, or neither/both?

​Potential contributors should submit a 250-word abstract to by 30 June 2018. Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be sent out by the 14th of July. This workshop is sponsored by the ‘International Relations as a Social Science’ (IRSS) Working Group of the British International Studies Association (BISA). Travel costs may therefore be covered. Priority in this regard will be given to graduate students and early career researchers. Please specify whether or not you are applying for funding when submitting your abstract.

Workshop organiser: Dr Michiel van Ingen is a Guest Teacher at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). His research draws on, and sits at the intersection of, a range of disciplines, including International Relations, conflict studies, the philosophy/methodology of science, (critical/global) political economy, development studies, and anthropology. The three main thematic areas with which his publications have engaged thus far are (1) violence (the study of civil war in particular), (2) the philosophy/methodology of science (critical realism and the new materialisms in particular), and (3) feminism and gender-studies. Contact information:
PDF icon Feminist International Relations and the 'Science Question' (CFP).pdf209.55 KB




Beyond ANU

Date posted

Tuesday, 27 March 2018