The Global Transformation: History, Modernity and the Making of International Relations

Jennifer Mitzen, Ohio State University

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In their book, Barry Buzan and George Lawson synthesize an impressive range of material to argue that what they call the long nineteenth century amounted to a profound transformation in world politics, which continues to shape and affect the international system today. They further argue that the discipline of international relations has mostly ignored this transformation, and that a deeper understanding of the nineteenth century will better position us to understand the twenty-first.

Buzan and Lawson’s masterfully curated account is a welcome addition to the growing body of historically oriented IR scholarship, not least in that it provides a much less Euro-centric understanding of the nineteenth century than IR’s conventional narrative. In Chapter 1, they define the global transformation as a configuration of industrialization, rational state building, and ideologies of progress that together have produced what we know of as modernity. Chapters 3 through 8 are each organized around a different transformative aspect of the period.

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Perspectives on Politics / Volume 14 / Issue 01 / March 2016, pp 187-189
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016