The (s)pace of international relations: Simulation, surveillance, and speed
In his 1988 presidential address to the International Studies Association, Robert Keohane gave notice of a new approach to the study of international relations. He labeled it “reﬂective,” in the sense of reﬂecting, for the most part critically, on how institutions are thought and written about in international relations. In an edited version of the address that appeared in the International Studies Quarterly, Keohane went on to criticize the reﬂective approach for failing to research the empirical reality of institutions. Within the criticism lies an implicit imprecation: if one is to ﬁnd a “genuine research program” it is better to take the enlightened road of rationalist reﬂection than the benightedwood of poststructuralist reﬂexivity (Keohane, 1988). There is, moreover, a metaphoric power in Keohane’s choice of terms which insinuates a kind of generic passivity in the reﬂectivist camp. It would seem that the reﬂectivist, by deﬁnition, prefers or has little choice but to reﬂect others’ thoughts and actions rather than to engage in the more productive work of empirically testing hypotheses. Then, after dazzling the reﬂective creature on this familiar road of the enlightenment tradition with an impressive pair of twin high-beams-rationalist theory and empirical research-Keohane concludes that
“eventually, we may hope for a synthesis between the rationalistic and reﬂective approaches” (Keohane, 1989: 393).