The closer you look, the less you see: knowledge cumulation in IR

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores what is made invisible in traditional understandings of knowledge in political science, the disciplinary politics of knowledge construction, and the exclusionary impacts of knowledge-policing standards. Given these problems, there is advantage in valorizing failure in knowledge production, and understanding knowledge cumulation in IR as productive fantasy. The chapter concludes by contending that the future of the discipline is in the manifestation of the productive fantasy of knowledge cumulation in argumentation. The chapter uses the democratic peace research program as an example of the ways in which the fantasy of knowledge production is produced and reified, and to envision possible alternative futures for IR.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvaluating Progress in International Relations
Subtitle of host publicationHow Do You Know?
EditorsPatrick James, Annette Freyberg-Inan, Ewan Harrison
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781315561462
ISBN (Print)9781138674165
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2016


  • epistemology
  • international relations
  • knowledge
  • methodology

Cite this