Presented by CIPS and the International Theory Network (ITN). Free. In English. Registration is not required. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
In IR textbooks, Machiavelli is usually presented as a key realist thinker, if not as the first modern realist, who paved the way toward the contemporary discipline of International Relations (IR). This view is not only pervasive in the IR literature, it also seems to be corroborated by authoritative historians of the Renaissance. Yet, the elevation of Machiavelli to the realist Pantheon is a fairly recent phenomenon, dating from the mid-20th century, which initially had all the odds stacked against itself. The talk will explore how this feat was accomplished, why it was unlikely, and why it succeeded, as well as its consequences for IR. Recovering the transformation of Machiavelli into a realist icon thus provides a concrete case study of the invention of a “realist tradition” in international thought, supposedly connecting the Florentine Secretary to contemporary IR through a direct and uninterrupted lineage.
Nicolas Guilhot is senior researcher at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and deputy director of the Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CIRHUS) at New York University. He has previously occupied positions at the Social Science Research Council, the London School of Economics and Columbia University. His publications include The Invention of International Relations Theory: Realism, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the 1954 Conference on Theory (Columbia University Press, 2011), and The Democracy Makers: Human Rights and the Politics of Global Order (Columbia University Press, 2005). He is currently working on a book on 20th century realism, and on a genealogy of rational choice in politics.