The long-term perspective in the study of the history of international relations
Palabras clave:International Relations, Material and Formal Objects, Westphalian Tradition, Eurocentrism, Universal History
This essay explores the possible answers to the question, when do international relations (IR) appear? The question itself invites a distinction between IR as theory and as practice. The traditional landmark for the latter has been the mid-seventeenth century, after the signing of the peace treaties that put an end to the Thirty Years war (1648) and gave way to the emergence of the Westphalian model on international relations. This landmark has been justified based on the specificity of interaction between the newly born sovereign states, which changed the scene of previous exchanges among independent polities. In spite of the validity of the argument, the long-term view proposes enhancing the historical horizon for the study of international relations in search of precedents to cast light both on the sociological regularities and the historical singularities in the modes of interaction among independent polities at a larger scale. The aim is to break away from the etno-centricity of the Westphalian model and the cultural dominance of western thought, which has traditionally neglected regional experiences in different latitudes and assumes that international relations is an exclusively European tradition. From this perspective, the emergence of IR as theory must also be reconsidered.