Monday, May 9, 2016

Pop Culture and IR: What I Do And Why

Today, twitter erupted (well, in my corner) about the use of pop culture to discuss international relations. Folks were pondering who could serve on a panel criticizing the use of pop culture and IR.  I came up as a potential defender of the faith tactic strategy form.

My answer: hell no.  Why?  Because when it comes to pop culture and IR, this tends to be my attitude:
Here's where I piss off the two very distinct sides: those that very seriously apply the meanings and uses of pop culture to understand the text of international relations and those that criticize them.  How so?  I am of the "geeking out" category (thanks to Dan Nexon for this category of pop culture and IRing).  I throw one at the other, sometimes pop culture at IR and sometimes IR at pop culture, to illustrate something interesting to me, to play with concepts and see how they are or can be applied.  I am never thinking about anything particularly deep, I am never doing this stuff with a great deal of nuance or methodological care. 

I do it because it is fun for me to do it, and I do it because I think it can make accessible concepts in IR that may not be so accessible otherwise.  I am not trying to prove anything or establish anything other than that I think I can be clever.  And I fail at that much of the time. 

As I discussed on twitter, my choice of name for this blog is not entirely accidently and not entirely driven by my thirst for alliteration.  The stuff here is Spew--me thinking out loud.  It is Semi in that it is not fully thought out.  For some relevant examples,

When I use pop culture in my teaching, it is aimed at providing examples or illustrations of dynamics quickly and engagingly
So, I don't want to participate in an anti-pop culture and IR panel because it simply would not be fun for me.

And, oh, by the way, if the various players in IR use pop culture to explain/justify what they are doing, maybe we do need to pay attention to it a bit.

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