ERIS, A Genuinly European Journal. Interview with Christian Lequesne
The latest issue of ERIS (European Review of International Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1) has just been published. This issue is the first issue published with Brill. Interview with Christian Lequesne, one of the journal's two founding editors.
You launched ERIS (European Review of International Studies) in 2014 with Professor John Groom from the University of Canterbury. Could you give us the genealogy of this editorial project?
Christian Lequesne: I had known John Groom for several years, in particular because we were both on the European Consortium for Political Research’s Steering Committee on International Relations —which has since become the European International Studies Association (EISA). I had succeeded Marie-Claude Smouts as CERI's representative. The EISA is a place where European IR specialists meet, with the aim of pooling a significant production of research specific to Europe. In 2011, it seemed to us (with John Groom and other colleagues at the time, in particular Bertrand Badie) that Europe should make its IR production more visible and should not hesitate to claim its scientific added value, i.e., a strong anchoring in sociology and history, and even more in historical sociology. This is very true in France, but also in Great Britain.
We naturally came up with the idea of launching a new journal that would be European in its conception, without being closed to the rest of the world. The idea found the institutional support of CERI and of Christchurch University in Canterbury. German publisher Barbara Budrich accepted our project and the first issue of ERIS was published in January 2014. John Groom has withdrawn from the adventure since; I am now co-directing the journal with Christopher Hill from the University of Cambridge, and we remain faithful to the original project.
In an already rich academic publishing landscape, what gap was ERIS intended to fill? Five years after its first issue, do you feel that the journal is fulfilling this mission today? How can you continue to pursue this effort?
Five years is still young for an academic journal. Christopher Hill and I agree that ERIS must be a journal capable of publishing both very experienced authors and young scholars who may be submitting a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal for the first time. We are quite successful in attracting young researchers and this is a great satisfaction. We are deliberately not the journal of a specific intellectual school, or worse, a “cult” journal. Nothing has ever struck me as more intellectually mediocre than social sciences that are closed on themselves and around a single paradigm. ERIS is a pluralistic journal and we are open to a broad definition of the international that includes societies and not just state regulations.
From a methodological point of view, the journal tends to be rather oriented toward qualitative studies, but we are not anti-quantitativist either. I think we have fulfilled an important mission by allowing young IR specialists to be published or by offering once a year the possibility for a collective to publish a special issue around a certain theme.
We are currently switching publishers, which will enable us to have a wider distribution, as the new publisher Brill is very present on the market of social science journals, and in particular of international relations. We therefore hope that more and more manuscripts will spontaneously reach the ERIS editorial staff. Christopher Hill and I are very fortunate to be assisted by a very efficient editorial manager, Simon Bransden, who enables us to respond quickly to proposals and launch the review process. I must admit that this teamwork is a real pleasure.
Why would you say that ERIS is a genuinely European journal?
We are Europeans deep down in spirit. We believe that Europe must take responsibility for its own production in the social sciences and not always follow the American work, although we have immense respect for what is happening across the Atlantic. And I am proud to say, at a time when Brexit has become a reality, that the United Kingdom is on this point completely part of what ERIS claims to be Europe. The English school of international relations, which formulates the hypothesis of an international society and gives pride of place to the historicity of political processes, has enormous similarities with the way international relations have been studied at CERI for several decades.
ERIS is a European journal, not only because a majority of its published articles are by European authors, but also because it is not afraid of the linguistic diversity that makes Europe what it is. Although ERIS has chose to publish in English, it is possible to submit a manuscript for review in another European language. Similarly, we are certainly the only peer-reviewed journal in international relations that has systematised a census of books published in all European languages, including Russian and Turkish. Our editorial assistant in charge of the book section, Colombe Camus, does a superb job of identifying books in English and French of course, but also in Italian, German, and Spanish. The members of the scientific committee also point us to books in rarer languages, such as Bulgarian or Norwegian. This gives us a resolutely European touch and I am proud to be leading this task with two British colleagues who have always been convinced of the importance of European research cooperation, first John Groom and now Christopher Hill.
Interview by Miriam Périer, CERI
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