a fairly wonky academic feed
March 28, 2017 8:19 AM   Subscribe

He knows English, German, French, Russian, Korean, Latin, and classical Greek. He's worked for Applebee's and interned for John Boehner. He has a wife and two kids, a job teaching political science and diplomacy, and about 19,000 more Twitter followers than he did a few weeks ago. Robert E. Kelly has been writing and speaking on international relations (especially in East Asia) and US foreign policy for several years. Some pieces of particular interest...

Recently: Kelly on why "strategic patience" is the best of the US's bad options in dealing with North Korea.

"In brief, the bulk of IR scholars today normatively wants two things increasingly at odds, I think: 1. a slowdown, if not end, of the [Global War on Terrorism] – torture, indefinite detention, Guantanamo, drones, Islamophobia, national security state overkill, domestic militarism, and the relentless killing. 2. [Responsibility to Protect] – taking advantage of the momentary weakness of truly awful regimes to push through desperately needed liberal changes in the name of humanitarianism."

On a visit to China: "The Forbidden City, like the Winter Palace or Versailles, explains why republican and communist revolutions happen."

During the 2012 US election: a satirical skit where Obama and Romney one-up each other in their commitment to America as the indispensable nation. "That’s a ‘shining’ city on the hill, Governor. Indispensability casts a unique red-white-and-blue glow..."

What should we compare Korea to? Perhaps France, Israel, or the US?

On a 2010 US election ad: "the ad is right on target actually in its basic claim. American errors and profligacy are the makers’ real targets; it is not ‘Asia-baiting,’ although it may feel that way initially. If it gets Americans to think more seriously about the looming debt crisis and the seriousness of the Chinese challenge, so much the better."

"Post-Western Global Governance?": "my growing sense that as the non-western world gets its act together slowly in the coming decades, all this GG talk will just look like preening academic liberal internationalism, our hubris in trying to extend a system basically built for the West (plus Japan) to everyone else."

On the alleged decline of US defense: "no one in the US think-tank-industrial complex seems to have learned much from Iraq."

On American exceptionalism and poor-quality media commentary on East Asia: "If we are really the ‘end of history’ and the ‘last, best hope for mankind,’ then why the hell do we need to learn about other countries?"

On whether Russia belongs in a single category along with Brazil, India, and China: "Russia is slipping, not rising and has been, more or less, since the late 1970s. That’s quite a hegemonic decline."

"The International Relations Discipline and the Rise of Asia": "The clash between generalist John Mearsheimer and China experts like David Shambaugh over whether China is another rising hegemon comfortably fit under standing covering laws in IR about hegemony, or something new requiring theoretical expansion, is just the start of the methodological and conceptual struggle to absorb these under-researched cases with thousands of years of history generally unexplored by IR."

What Kelly has learned while teaching international relations in Asia, including the prevalence of English: "Asian IR is here to vindicate your monolinguistic laziness masquerading as universalist rationalism!"

On the Social Science Citation Index: "I always hear the expression ‘SSCI’ thrown around as the gold standard for social science work. Administrators seem to love it, but where it comes from and how it gets compiled I don’t really understand."

7 things Kelly does not like about being an academic:
When I get rejection letters from academic journals, my hands shake (lame but true). I presume that means I am really insecure about my work, even though you’d think that would pass after 15 years. I think sometimes it’s because the only big thing I have in the professional world is my intellectual credibility. I have no big money, no cool DC or think-tank perch, no ‘network,’ no inside track to anything. The only reason anyone would even notice me is because I try to be a researcher who says stuff that can at least be verified somewhat. So I read at least an article of IR a day just out of anxiety. How’s that for job satisfaction?
Post title from Kelly's tweets a few days ago: "It's been two weeks since the video, & I want to re-start tweeting. While I am flattered by all the new followers, please note that is a fairly wonky,academic feed @ northeast Asia,political science, US foreign policy& so on. I will not discuss my family here much. Thank u". Kelly (the "BBC dad") previously on MetaFilter.
posted by brainwane (5 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
While I am flattered by all the new followers, please note that is a fairly wonky,academic feed @ northeast Asia,political science, US foreign policy& so on. I will not discuss my family here much.

My silly hope is that every now and again he just inserts a GIF of one of his kids barging into a room, dancing, for general levity.

But seriously, thanks for this! It'll be long reading for the future.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 AM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

His article on '7 things...' really resonates with me. I tried to pick quotes but it'd just be the whole thing.
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:12 AM on March 28, 2017

Glad this is interesting, filthy light thief! I also posted links to some of his particularly interesting blog posts in this comment on the previous thread, and I learned a lot from Kelly's report of his trip to North Korea and other stuff under his "Korea (North)" tag.

Also: If you dig around and look at his responses to blog comments and his replies to tweets, he's consistently courteous, saying things like "thank you for your thoughtful comment" even when people disagree with him, and even this lovely moment: "I guess we'll have to disagree then, but ur usually right on NK, so that's good. :) Happy new year" I love that.

I think he's still having trouble with Google Scholar and I hope someone helps him fix it
posted by brainwane at 12:51 PM on March 28, 2017

The seven things resonated with me too. Now when folks can't believe anyone (me) would leave a tenured position, I know where to point them.
posted by songs_about_rainbows at 3:18 PM on March 28, 2017

The 7 Things post is excellent. Regarding Kelly's point about not feeling like he has much productive output for all the time he spends, this also came across my screen yesterday. Different research area, but the concepts of research debt, interpretive labor, and distillation are pretty broadly applicable and I think quite important and useful.
posted by eviemath at 5:49 PM on March 28, 2017

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