2022 marks International Affairs' 100th year. The centenary is a notable achievement and a reflection of the efforts of past and present editorial teams and boards. Much like the journal's first editor, G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, did a century ago, I am writing an editorial to reflect on our history and launch our second century.
Originally, International Affairs (IA) served as a venue for sharing transcripts of meetings and events held at Chatham House with members who were unable to attend in person. From its founding (which only predated the journal's by two years), Chatham House aimed to bring together academics, policy-makers and others wanting to debate the international issues of the time. IA has always reflected this founding principle and the journal still aims to engage with both an academic and practitioner readership.
Looking back over the last 100 years, it is interesting to note that some issues have been the subject of consistent discussion. Like Chatham House itself, the journal was born in the immediate aftermath of the First World War and the Spanish Influenza pandemic. As the circumstances of its founding would suggest, issues of war, global health, the role of great powers and of international organizations have all been recurring themes in the journal. As IA enters its second century, we are faced with global challenges that would have been familiar to my predecessors. With the COVID-19 pandemic,1 the rise of China, US retreat from multilateralism and ‘Global Britain’, it is clear that these debates are far from concluded.2
Other themes have been strangely missing from these pages. Our March 2020 special section ‘Engaging religions and religious studies in international affairs’ reminded us of the profession's general neglect of a central aspect of many human lives.3 Similarly, we have not paid enough attention to the environment, a defining feature of global politics today and likely in years to come. Our January 2021 issue on ‘Environmental peacebuilding’ was one step towards rectifying this.
Another major shift during the journal's history has been in the type of content we publish. As the world changed, with global issues waxing and waning, the journal has transformed along with it. In its early years, IA's pages were dominated by reports and transcripts of speeches given at Chatham House. Ramsey MacDonald, in 1930, was the first UK prime minister to publish in the journal and Edward Heath the last in 1988.4 In fact, a range of individuals who would go on to lead their countries have been contributors, as well as at least one Olympian, a number of Nobel Prize winners5 and Chatham House researchers, including the institute's current director, Robin Niblett.6 Other prominent political leaders featured in these pages have included Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara and Konrad Adenauer.7 Now, the journal is a space for rigorous academic research that is relevant to both scholars and policy-makers. We are proud to say that this has culminated in our 2021 ranking as the top journal of International Relations.
One consistent feature over the past century has been IA's significant book reviews section, which continues to lead the field. Comprising between 20 and 40 reviews per issue, it has informed readers—from students to scholars, to politicians and other practicioners—about the significant new books across international relations and global politics.
The journal itself is growing, as those of you who receive a hard copy may well have noticed. Starting with three issues in 1922, it now appears six times a year. The number of articles within each issue also continues to rise, as the journal adapts to changes within the academic publishing environment. The September 2021 special issue, ‘Deglobalization? The future of the liberal international order’, is the current record holder, comprising more than 400 pages.
Our centenary year
The editorial team and I are pleased to share with you our plans for 2022. International Affairs will continue to publish the latest critical thinking on the key issues shaping today's world. We are also excited to be presenting the two winners of our centenary special issue competition. You will find the first, guest-edited by Jasmine Gani and Jenna Marshall, in the following pages. The contributors explore ‘Race and imperialism in International Relations’, both in academia and policy. We also look forward to the September special issue, guest-edited by Daniel W. Drezner and Amrita Narlikar, who have put together a ‘How not to’-guide to international relations. Both special issues speak to the breadth of the discipline while acknowledging its gaps. They also highlight IA's ongoing focus on academic and practitioner engagement.
Readers will find two new initiatives in 2022. In this first issue of the year we are launching a series of ‘Centenary conversations’, which will celebrate both the journal's history as a space for policy discussions, while exploring the key issues that will shape the next century of international relations. Second, throughout the year we will be publishing six bonus archive collections. Guest-editors of this new ‘100 years of’ series will draw on our extensive archive to show how contributors have engaged with both core global themes and emerging international issues over the past century.
Perhaps the most important change in the journal over the past few decades has been the increase in diversity of voices and opinions we publish. Chatham House's origins were as part of a network of institutes focused on maintaining and extending a western world order. As a result, the journal published many people who actively participated in establishing structurally violent and racist regimes across the globe, with impacts that can still be felt today. At the same time, Chatham House—and the pages of this journal—also played host to many anti-colonial speakers, from Gandhi in 1931 to Senegal's first president Léopold Senghor in 1962.8
Although the journal today publishes authors from across the globe, as an editorial team we are all too aware there is still much we need to do. In 2020, we launched our 50:50 initiative, pledging to reach gender parity among our contributors. Since then, we are pleased that around half of our contributors identify as women.9 We want to build on the lessons of the 50:50 initiative while moving beyond it.
Over the next year, and next century, we will strive to ensure that International Affairs is a truly global and inclusive journal. We aim to publish more articles by early career scholars and by authors from other groups who have been underrepresented in the journal and the wider discipline of International Relations, especially people of colour, people located or trained in the global South and people who identify as LGBTIQ+. To do so, we will be working to understand what barriers there are to publishing in IA. We have already started this work with our Early Career Diversity Initiative, which aims to support underrepresented groups to publish in the journal. However, we know that this is not enough and that we have much to learn. As colleagues and readers of this journal, if you have any thoughts on how we can improve, we would very much like to hear from you.
We would also like to take this opportunity to share with our readers the five key aims for the journal's second century:
International Affairs will remain focused on engaging with both academics and practitioners.
International Affairs will continue to be one of the leading journals in the field, with a notable book reviews section and a growing digital presence.
International Affairs will continue to cover the entirety of international relations and will not limit itself to particular areas, themes or approaches.
International Affairs will not hold an opinion. Rather, it will focus on scholarship conducted with academic rigour and of the highest quality.
International Affairs will be open to all contributors, while the editorial team will pay particular attention to the voices that have been historically underrepresented in its pages.
G. M. Gathorne-Hardy observed in his first editorial that ‘no doubt there will be development in many directions as time goes on’.10 We cannot predict what the next 100 years of international relations will hold, but we hope that International Affairs remains ‘a source of information and a guide to judgment in international affairs’ for the next century, as it has been for the last.
6. Robin Niblett, ‘Rediscovering a sense of purpose: the challenge for western think-tanks’, International Affairs 94: 6, 2018, pp. 1409–29.
7. M. K. Gandhi, ‘The future of India’, International Affairs 10: 6, 1931, pp. 721–39; Ernesto Che Guevara, ‘The Cuban economy: its past, and its present importance’, International Affairs 40: 4, 1964, pp. 589–99; Konrad Adenauer, ‘Germany and the problem of time’, International Affairs 28: 2, April 1952, pp. 156–61.
8. Leopold Senghor, ‘Some thoughts on Africa: a continent in development’, International Affairs 38: 2, 1962, pp. 189–95.
9. Leah De Haan, ‘Editorial: 50:50 in 2020: International Affairs gender balance report 2021’, International Affairs 97: 5, 2021, pp. 1283–1303.
10. Editorial, Journal of the British Institute of International Affairs (later International Affairs) 1: 1, 1922, pp. 3–5.
Andrew M. Dorman has been the Editor of International Affairs since 2015. He is also Professor of International Security at King's College London.