Power-knowledge estranged

From Susan Strange to poststructuralism in British IPE

Authored by: Paul Langley

Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE)

Print publication date:  February  2009
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415771269
eBook ISBN: 9780203881569
Adobe ISBN: 9781135984014


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If we are to consider the academic and intellectual consolidation of the field of international political economy (IPE) in Britain, then the contribution of Susan Strange is certainly worthy of specific attention. Strange came to academia after a successful career as a journalist, having been White House correspondent for the Observer newspaper at just twenty-three years of age, and a reporter for the Economist magazine. Whilst a senior research fellow at Chatham House, Strange co-founded the British International Studies Association (BISA) in 1974/5, and was the inaugural convenor of BISA’s International Political Economy Group (IPEG). Aside from this institutional input and legacy, Strange’s presence and personality also loomed large in IPE in Britain for three decades. As a doctoral student presenting my work at annual BISA conferences and IPEG workshops in the latter half of 1990s, I soon learned that it was what Susan thought that seemed to matter most. On her comments and questions appeared to hinge whether a conference paper or thesis would hold up. Indeed, on a personal note, I can recall my dismay following her remark at a panel session at the BISA conference in 1997 that she “could not make head nor tail of the Langley paper!” In the words of Strange’s long-time collaborator Roger Tooze, IPE was “a subject that she made her own, at least in the UK if not in the USA” (1999: 280).

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