The Crisis of the Twenty-First Century: Empire in an Age of Austerity

Call for Papers for issue of Global Discourse

Issue title: The Crisis of the Twenty-First Century: Empire in an Age of Austerity


  • Initial submission of 300-500 word abstracts: 1st February 2012
  • Submission of 6,000-8,000 word articles on invitation: 1st May 2012
  • Date of issue publication: September 2012 

About the Journal

Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, issue-oriented journal, operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The journal aims to lead discussions and debates on current affairs by promoting intensive, discursive evaluation of ideas, tenets and practices. The core tenet is that key issues in current affairs can be addressed only through the creation of forums in which to apply theoretical approaches developed in artificially isolated disciplines. Each issue of the journal is themed, containing six 6,000-8,000 word articles, each accompanied by a 1,500-3,000 reply from an established figure in the field (to which authors can also reply), and two book review symposia, each containing three 1,500 word reviews and one reply from the author. Full details of the publication are available at At present, papers are solicited for the issue outlined below.


At the very beginning of the 21st century, with the US and its allies apparently committed to expansion in the Middle East, the notion of empire re-entered the popular imagination, leading to comparisons, by the likes of Niall Ferguson, between the US and imperial Rome. With the ‘end of history’ thesis challenged most vividly by al Qaeda on 9/11, it seemed that liberal democracies were increasingly prepared to export ‘modernity’ through imperial means. Moreover, the European Union appeared committed to recovering many former Roman territories within an increasingly borderless expanse bound together by, among other things, a single currency. While the experience of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the survival and re-invigoration of ‘rogue’ states, such as Iran, has tempered enthusiasm for the exercise of expansion through ‘hard power’, perhaps the most intriguing dynamic affecting contemporary imperial ambitions has been the late 2000s Global Financial Crisis and the emerging Age of Austerity.

The countries behind the early 2000s Western intervention in the Middle East and/or the expansion of the EU are now heavily indebted and facing serious budget deficits and spending cuts domestically. Conversely, China, with its vast investment in US Treasury bonds, is rapidly increasing its presence in Africa and, at a time of high oil prices, Western nations and Russia are rapidly moving towards a ‘Scramble for the Arctic’. Amidst all this, a number of key questions arise:

  • What future is there for the subjects of recent Western intervention now that ‘imperial’ states face domestic shortfalls?
  • Can useful comparisons be drawn to previous imperial societies in crisis? Will states, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, be told to defend themselves as Romano-Britons were told by Rome in AD410?
  • To which political bodies should peripheral or prospective members of the European Union look during a time of economic uncertainty?
  • How might developing or peripheral societies gain from engagement with such divergent powers such as the US, China and Iran?
  • Is there any reason to believe that the dissolution of expansionist ambition may exacerbate, rather than remedy, economic, social and political insecurity?
  • Do contemporary conditions offer new or divergent means of resistance to empire?

The aim of the issue is to establish the nature and shape of empire in an age of financial crisis and to examine its current and potential effects on international society. In order to achieve this, we invite submissions of abstracts for papers addressing the sorts of questions outlined above. In particular, we encourage the submission of papers which transcend disciplinary boundaries. The journal has no fixed ideological affiliation and we seek to encourage diversity of thought, especially on normative questions.


Deadlines are listed at the beginning of this flyer. Abstracts should be between 300-500 words for initial assessment. The editors will invite full article submissions from those papers deemed most suitable for the issue. Articles will be subject to double-blind review. The two-stage review process in Global Discourse, in which a final, 3,000 word substantive reply to the paper is published alongside the article, differs from that in other journals. Full details are available at A style guide and submission guidelines are provided at

Please submit all abstracts and address all enquiries to Russell Foster at