Vortrag im Rahmen des Kolloquiums SFB 1288
(A paper has to be read in advance. Available via: firstname.lastname@example.org)
In this paper, Matthew Specter discusses a central finding of his book, The Atlantic Realist Century, 1880-1980. This work of transnational intellectual history focuses on the writings of six major intellectuals (Alfred Mahan, Friedrich Ratzel, Carl Schmitt, Karl Haushofer, Hans Morgenthau and Wilhelm Grewe) and a score of lesser-known figures. It argues that what is commonly known today as “realism” in Atlantic international relations theory, diplomatic practice, and public discourse on international affairs developed over the course of a century of German-American intellectual exchange. Specter provides an alternative account of the development of realism to histories that emphasize its descent from Bismarckian Realpolitik, or the liberal response to the rise of the Third Reich. Specter explains how and why he uses the term practice of comparison to illuminate the intellectual history of realism. Realism developed through a transnational practice of comparison. The categories of “great power” and “world power” were important categories that performed comparative work. In divergent political contexts, the fin de siècle, the interwar period, and in the postwar period, American and German intellectuals nonetheless found comparison of their nations an essential tool for describing the practices of empire and the prerogatives of nation-states. Specter’s account of the intertwined histories of German and American discourses on international affairs challenges narratives of American exceptionalism and of the German Sonderweg and provincializes an influential tradition in Western political thought.
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