In This Review

Women’s International Thought: A New History
Women’s International Thought: A New History
Edited by Patricia Owens and Katharina Rietzler
Cambridge University Press, 2021, 600 pp

In most histories of the academic field of international relations, very few women make an appearance. The “greats” in the scholarly canon are overwhelmingly Anglo-American men. In this ground-breaking book, a distinguished group of scholars engages in what the historian Glenda Sluga calls “recovery history,” reconstructing the forgotten and marginalized ideas of 18 female thinkers, including several African American women, who played formative roles in defining and launching the field beginning in the late nineteenth century. The goal of the book is not to simply add women to the traditional story of international relations scholarship but to expand and complicate the theories and debates within the field, bringing questions such as gender, race, and empire into the mainstream. The editors note that the first use of the term “international thought” can be traced to Florence Melian Stawell’s 1929 book, The Growth of International Thought, a work that has received hardly any scholarly attention. One chapter of the volume considers the contributions of Eslanda Robeson, a Black activist and intellectual whose internationalist thought focused on the struggles of women for participation in world politics. There are also chapters on the revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg and the philosopher Simone Weil, who concentrated on problems of class and colonialism. Another chapter provides an interesting portrait of Vera Micheles Dean, who as director of research for the Foreign Policy Association in the mid- twentieth century formulated a brand of liberal internationalism that emphasized cosmopolitanism and democratic solidarity. Together, the essays lay the foundation for interdisciplinary debates and new histories of the field.