Relationality from the Pacific Perspective: Two DPA scholars attended ISA 2024

ISA 2024


‘Putting Relationality at the Centre of International Studies’ was the theme for the 2024 International Studies Association conference in San Francisco. Two of the Department of Pacific Affairs scholars Salā Dr George Carter and Henrietta McNeill joined the 3,000 participants in the mega-conference for international relations, diplomatic studies and international politics scholars.

Although ISA and the discipline is predominantly focused on power and influence of states – and mainly super powers, however there is greater diversity in this year’s stocktake of global and international research.

Henrietta's presentation focussed on relationality, geopolitics, and criminal deportations, drawing from her recent PhD research. Henrietta relished the opportunity to share her findings with scholars from all over the world, and found the panel that she was on (convened by RegNet scholar Professor Miranda Forsyth) generated a very deep and meaningful conversation about relationality, security and justice in the Pacific Islands. Henrietta said,

I really appreciated being able to meet some of the intellectual giants in my field and discuss my research with them one-on-one. As an Early Career Researcher, ISA conferences broaden my network and open all sorts of doors.

For George, ISA was a valuable investment to showcase what IR and Diplomatic Studies can learn from the Pacific,

The discipline has marginalised, at times erased, our analysis from island and small powers (yes, small Powers). The theme of Relationality allows International Relations and Diplomatic studies to take into account my relational worldview or ‘itulagi’ - that of the Pacific and Samoa.

George presented a paper in an eclectic panel with scholars from China, UK and Canada, exploring Global Shifts in Relationality and Diplomacy - on Oceanic Diplomacy. There is diplomatic system and order that stems from indigenous peoples (of land and sea) that interplays with western and post-colonial diplomatic systems. The paper was based on collaborative theorising from contributions from community or ‘aiga' of scholars, who have compiled 20 chapters for our upcoming book on Oceanic Diplomacy, and from our work around relationality in diplomatic practice. The research was well received, and inspired other presenters to cite the work in their presentations later in the week. George said,

The conference allowed me to extend our community of scholars to those outside our region. By learning and collaborating with scholars from Canada, Chittagong, Australia, Myanmar, Mexico and Ghana we can see how the concept of Oceanic Diplomacy or indigenous diplomacy has place in other parts of the world.

Together with our Pacific scholars we hope we can continue to push ISA and the discipline to be brave with our thinking, that is for International Relations to be truly Relational.