"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.

Sovereignty is often imagined as the indivisible autonomy of public authority from others. I find this is more fiction than reality and that sovereignty is instead a divisible power relation between public and private entities that together produce sovereign influence. I call this phenomena hybrid sovereignty and I study its forms and dynamics over time in global politics.

My book manuscript, Hybrid Sovereignty in World Politics, uses original archival data collected over five years to investigate a variety of cases of hybrid sovereignty, such as the English East India Company, Blackwater, the International Chamber of Commerce, and Amnesty International. I also build a theoretical framework for better accommodating hybridity in international relations.

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 organizational archives in the Netherlands and France.

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