Lessons from the past: reassessing the interwar disciplinary history of international relations
International Studies Quarterly , Volume 42 - Issue 3 p. 433- 459
This article reconstructs the interwar discourse of international relations among American political scientists and seeks to challenge the orthodox view that the scholarship of this period was essentially idealist in nature. It aims to make a contribution to the growing body of literature devoted to examining the institutional history of international relations. My purpose is to demonstrate that the conventional label of idealism that has been attached to the interwar period of international relations scholarship seriously misrepresents the actual character of the conversion that was being directed toward understanding international politics. By carefully reconstructing the internal discourse of the field, many of the field's long forgotten individuals and ideas are brought back to life. The article concludes by highlighting some of the lessons that the interwar discourse offers to the study of international relations today and argues that this period cannot be construed as idealist.