‘Democracy: trap, tragedy or crisis?’


I have recently been coming across a number of books reflecting on the health of democracy and questioning whether it is now in a state of crisis. As I was reading them for my own research, I thought it might be interesting and useful to do a synthesis review for some of them. So I did it and the piece was accepted for publication by Political Studies Review. The books I considered were: Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos, Philip Coggan’s The Last Vote, John Dunn’s Breaking Democracy’s Spell, S Steven Johnston’s American Dionysia, Joshua Kurlantzick’s Democracy in Retreat, Peter Mair’s Ruling the Void and David Runciman’s The Confidence Trap. Of these, I particularly liked Brown’s and Runciman’s. I am not sure when the article will be published, but according to the copyright agreement, I am allowed to post the original version I submitted to the journal. It is not greatly different from the version that will be published, mainly just some tweaks and fixing of poor phrasing. So if interested, here it is:

Christopher Hobson, ‘Democracy: trap, tragedy or crisis?‘ (original version of an article forthcoming in Political Studies Review).

Taylor & Francis online: conflict collection


Taylor & Francis have put together a collection of articles related to conflict that have appeared in journals they publish. My article from Third World Quarterly, which examines the role of private military companies in the war on drugs, has been included in this collection. There hasn’t been much published on this topic, so I was glad to get it published and now I am happy to see it being made more widely available. All articles in this conflict selection are available free until the end of 2016. You can reach my piece through clicking on the link below:

ISA in Hong Kong, 25-27 June 2016


I’ll be making my first visit to Hong Kong later this week to attend the International Studies Association’s regional Asia-Pacific conference. I’ll be giving a new paper on human security as part of a series of panels on ‘Critical security in the Asia-Pacific’ (SuA03: Sunday 8:30 AM – 10:15 AM). In addition, I am also co-organizing and contributing to a roundtable on ‘The ethics of scholarship in a changing region: studying and teaching the Asia-Pacific’ (MA08: Monday 8:30 AM – 10:15 AM). Except for having to do early morning panels both mornings, I am looking forward to discussing some of the key issues I have been thinking and teaching about recently. Check the conference homepage for more information.

‘Humility’s value for democracy in dark times’


I have a new piece over at The Conversation, as part of their Democratic Futures series, a joint initiative with the Sydney Democracy Network. My contribution builds out of the talk I gave at The University of Sydney earlier this year. I consider the idea of humility and what its relevance might be for contemporary politics and democracy. I am glad to have it online, as it gives a very good idea of where my current thought is headed. You can read the piece here.

‘Millennium’ special issue


I’m very happy to announce that my latest article has been published in the new issue of Millennium. It is part of a special issue on failure and denial in world politics, which emerged from last October’s conference at LSE on the same topic. The editors have compiled an impressive set of contributors and I am glad to be a part of it. My article explores the theme of failure in reference to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and its application in the Libya intervention. This was an opportunity for me to put to print some of the ideas related to humility that I have been exploring recently. You can find an abstract for the article here (the full version is behind a paywall):

Christopher Hobson, ‘Responding to Failure: The Responsibility to Protect after Libya‘, Millennium – Journal of International Studies June 2016 44: 433-454.

Paperback editions


I am very happy to announce that all three of the books that I edited with Routledge have now been re-issued in paperback. My co-editors and I put a lot of work into each of these volumes and I am proud of the finished products. Many edited books suffer from uneven content or lack cohesion, and we worked hard to avoid these downfalls. Given that I believe these are strong, worthwhile collections it has been frustrating for them to be only available in hardback, which has meant they have been rather pricey. So I am glad that they are now all available in paperback at the much more affordable price of £30 each. For more information, please check the links below:

New term


Today marks the beginning of a new academic year at Waseda University. This semester I’m teaching the electives “Gender in Global Politics” and “Democracy, Peace and War”, as well as my usual Intermediate and Advanced Seminars. I am also happy to announce that as of April 1st, I have been promoted to Associate Professor in the School of Political Science and Economics. More updates soon, now back to preparing for classes.

‘Responding to Failure’


Last year I attended the annual Millennium conference at the LSE, which was organized around the provocative theme of ‘failure and denial in world politics’. This provoked me to write on a topic I’ve research and taught on for a long time, but have not published on before: humanitarian intervention and R2P. My piece looks at the development of the R2P doctrine and focusing on its application in the 2001 Libyan intervention. I’m happy to say that it has been accepted for publication in the Millennium special issue from the conference, which will be published later this year. If interested, I’ve uploaded the version that was accepted for publication. Abstract and link below.

Christopher Hobson, ‘Responding to failure: The Responsibility to Protect after Libya’, forthcoming in Millennium, 44:3 (2016).

During its first decade in existence the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine has struggled to transcend the complexities that plague humanitarian action. This article examines the political challenges that shape the practice of R2P, as well as the discourse that informs it. It reflects on the constant presence of failure that haunts humanitarian intervention, and argues for a more humble stance on what is possible in such situations. Humility entails meditating on human limits, both physical and mental, which serves as an important guide in determining action. It promotes a more chastened position, one that acknowledges that right intentions might not lead to just outcomes, that there are real limits on the ability of external actors to understand or control events during and following an intervention, and that our ability to comprehend such complex situations should warn against premature judgements and confident conclusions. And when failure occurs, it means not denying or avoiding it, but facing it squarely and reckoning with the consequences. The value of adopting a more humble approach will be considered through examining the 2011 Libyan intervention, a significant case for the R2P doctrine. There success appears to have been exchanged for failure, leaving challenging and unresolved questions about what this experience means for Libya and R2P.

Image used was originally posted to Flickr by Magharebia

Back to Tokyo


I am about to head back to Tokyo after a very productive period in Australia. I really enjoyed having the chance to give a series of research presentations while I was here. I received some great feedback, which will be very helpful as I develop my new project further. I was also happy to find there was quite a bit of interest in my recently published book, The Rise of Democracy. In this regard, it was also good to see a brief but positive review appear in Foreign Affairs by Professor G. John Ikenberry.

Foreign Affairs capsule review (March / April 2016)

For more information about my book, please check these links:

Finally, if people in Tokyo want to reach me, I will be back in the office at Waseda and “open for business” as of this Tuesday 15 March 2016.