27 October, 2008

Middle earth politics

An article by Ruane and James, in the most recent issue of International Studies Perspectives, has a lot of fun with using The Lord of the Rings to illustrate some of the classic divisions among IR theorists. Here's something to think about:

Table 1. Approaches to IR and the Characters by Which They Can Be Illustrated

Great Debate IR Approach Race Male Character

1. Vision of future (idealism ⁄ realism): 1920s ⁄ 1930s
Kantian Elf Elrond
Machiavellian Orc Uglu´ k, Led by Saruman

2. Method (history ⁄science): 1950s ⁄1960s
Rational choice (bounded ⁄ unbounded) Wizard Gandalf ⁄ Saruman
Neorealist (defensive ⁄ offensive) Human Boromir ⁄ Ringwraith
Neoliberal (Institutionalist) Dwarf Gimli

3. Epistemology (positivism ⁄postpositivism): 1980s ⁄ 1990s
Constructivist Hobbit Frodo Baggins
Critical theory (Marxist roots) Ent Treebeard

source: A E.bigail Ruane, Patrick James. The International Relations of Middle-earth: Learning from The Lord of the Rings. International Studies Perspectives, Volume 9, Number 4 (November 2008), pp. 377-394.

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