Department of International Relations 75th Anniversary Public Lecture Series

The "national interest" concept has become an underappreciated source of global insecurity.  Not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with people having interests that must be preserved, promoted, or protected.  Rather, the “national interest” as such obscures whose interests are served (and harmed) by the efforts of policy elites to secure the state.  Governments routinely use the language of the national interest to justify a politics of violence, secrecy, and exclusion while bracketing off explicit questions of morality and justice.  And, national frameworks for mobilising resources and collective action are logically mismatched against global threats like climate change.  But rather than wishing away the modern nation-state or simply suggesting changes to the words that governing elites use, this lecture will argue that addressing the contradictions in the national interest—as well as some of international security studies’ most cherished strategic constructs—is a start point for constructing more durable forms of security. 

About the speaker
Van Jackson is a Professor of International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington and a Senior Research Scholar at Security in Context, where he co-directs the Multipolarity, Great-Power Competition, and the Global South project. Van’s research broadly concerns East Asian and Pacific security, the intersection of political ideology and U.S. foreign policy, and critical perspectives on the theory and practice of grand strategy. He is the author of dozens of journal articles, book chapters, and policy reports, as well as four books, the most recent of which are Grand Strategies of the Left: The Foreign Policy of Progressive Worldmaking (Cambridge University Press, 2023) and Pacific Power Paradox: American Statecraft and the Fate of the Asian Peace (Yale University Press, 2023).

About the chair
Deepak Nair is a Fellow / Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, at The Australian National University. His research centres on the microsociological study of international relations, particularly the circuitries of everyday diplomacy spanning ministries and diplomatic enclaves in Southeast Asia, especially in the budding ASEAN diplomatic field in Jakarta, Indonesia.


This lecture is held as part of a series celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Department of International Relations, located within the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University. You can find more information about the Department’s history and the other activities being held to mark the anniversary throughout 2024 here.





To be announced

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