The second Library Lunchtime Lecture for the Fall Semester 2011-12 was given by Associate Professor Pinar Bilgin, chair of the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University, on Wednesday 16 November 2011. The lecture, entitled “International Relations in a Changing World” was delivered to a full audience in the Art Gallery of Main Campus Library – so full in fact that extra chairs had to be brought in! The speaker has been teaching atBilkentUniversitysince 2000 and holds a B.Sc. fromMiddle EastTechnicalUniversity, M.A. from Bilkent, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from what is now theUniversityofAberystwyth,Wales,UK.
The main purpose of Dr. Bilgin’s lecture was to show how the discipline of International Relations has developed and matured over the past five decades or so, and how this development is at least in part a product of how the world in which we live has been changing. Originally equated with diplomacy, and then with relations between states and later with trans-boundary flows and interactions, International Relations today may be seen as incorporating all of these previous definitions and more. As the external world has changed, so the way we think about that world has changed too.
Dr. Bilgin’s own research is largely in the field of Security, and she demonstrated how within this area of study the main questions asked have changed over time: from “whose security”, through “what is security” to “how to pursue security”. These days, researchers in this field ask all three questions, and appreciate that the first two are not as simple as once thought. With reference to these issues, Dr. Bilgin then discussed the recent so-called Arab Spring and, more broadly, the definition ofTurkey’s regional…. During the twentieth century,Turkeyhas been located in a series of four differing “regions” which reflect both the changing priorities of western politicians and academics over time but also the varying notion of security. For example, the old concept of “the Middle East” rested on concerns over energy security and the stability of like-minded regime, whereas the idea of an “Arab World” grew out of a concern for the well being of the Arab peoples and especially the plight ofPalestine. As the regional definitions have changed, so the answers to the three questions about security have changed too.
The talk concluded with a consideration of the role played by International Relations scholars in helping to change the external world as well as being affected by changes in the world. Based on the concept of theoretical reflexivity, IR researchers have become more acutely aware of themselves and their work as part of the world and its on-going changes. The lecture is now online and can be watched by clicking here.
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