"Assembling International Organizations"

Typical scholarship on international organizations (IOs) focuses on the effects that IOs have on international relations. As Ian Hurd clarifies, such effects inform an IO’s ontology as actor, forum, or resource. This paper thinks with and beyond such contributions by more closely aligning outcome to process for a relational reconceptualization of IOs. In addition to analyzing what they explain about international politics, sociological approaches to IOs should also treat IOs as entities to be explained. I argue that IOs are assemblages of diverse actors projecting coherence in order to authorize particular identities, knowledges, and actions. Power flows through the construction process of IOs as their roles of actor, forum, or resource are constitutive with their socially mediated processes of assembly. Introducing the vocabulary of assemblage opens up space for understanding IOs as contingent settlements of varied organizational politics and competing tensions. The negotiation of these settlements deserves as much attention as the effects on international politics they make possible.

I research how sovereignty is negotiated between public and private authorities in international politics and how these power dynamics change over time. Specifically, I use original data to investigate a variety of global private actors, such as the English East India Company, Blackwater, the International Chamber of Commerce, and Amnesty International, to highlight different strategic relations with public authorities in "hybrid sovereignty." I also build a theoretical framework for better accomodating hybridity in global politics. Ian Hurd primarily advises my research at Northwestern.

I am trained in comparative historical, archival, big data, and interpretive methods. I collect primary data from national archives in the United States, England, and France and private archives in the Netherlands and France. I collect interview data from international organizations like the International Chamber of Commerce.

My research and travel have been generously funded by: The Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Department of Political Science, Legal Studies Graduate Program, and Critical Theory Graduate Cluster, all at Northwestern University; and, International Studies Association, International Studies Association- Northeast, British International Studies Association, and The Aberystwyth-Lancaster Graduate Colloquium.