Visiting Assistant Professor
Office: Kirby 309
Areas of Expertise: Ethics in World Politics; Security and US Foreign Policy; Global Governance; Theories of International Relations; Reflexivity; Technology and War; Time and Space in IR
Jack Amoureux is a Teacher/Scholar postdoctoral fellow at Wake Forest University. He received his PhD from Brown University and is from Boise, Idaho. Amoureux has two books with Routledge Press: A Practice of Ethics for Global Politics: Ethical Reflexivity, which is the International Studies Association 2014 Northeast Book Circle Honoree, and Reflexivity in International Relations: Positionality, Critique and Practice (edited with Brent J. Steele). He has published in International Relations, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, and the edited volume Ethics, Authority and War: Non-State Actors in the Just War Tradition. His areas of interest include ethics in world politics, security and US foreign policy, global governance, and international relations theories. He also specializes in the theory and scholarship of Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. Amoureux’s specific topics of investigation include violence and war-fighting, emerging technologies of war (e.g., drones and cyber-warfare), reflexivity, notions of time and space, human rights NGOs, the politics of peacekeeping in the United Nations, foreign policy leadership, the role of non-state actors in the just war tradition, and whistleblowing and other tactics of ethical agency. Amoureux has served as Chair of the LGBTQA Caucus of the International Studies Association and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Narrative Politics.
Ph.D. 2011, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
M.A. 2002, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
M.P.A. 2001, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
B.S. 1999, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
Teacher/Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow, Wake Forest University, Department of Politics and International Affairs, 2013-2017
Visiting Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University, Department of Politics and International Affairs, 2012-2013, 2017-2018
Part-Time Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University, Department of Politics and International Affairs, 2011-2012
Assistant Professor (term), American University, School of International Service, 2010-2011
Selected recent and ongoing projects:
A Practice of Ethics for Global Politics: Ethical Reflexivity (Routledge):
What kind of ethics in world politics is possible if there is no foundation for moral knowledge or global reality is at least complex and contingent? Furthermore, how can an ethics grapple with difference, a persistent and confounding feature for global politics? This book responds to the call for a bold and creative approach to ethics that avoids assuming or aspiring to universality, and instead prioritizes difference, complexity and uncertainty by turning to reflexivity. This practice, ‘ethical reflexivity’, offers individuals, organizations and communities tools to recognize, interrogate and potentially change the stories they tell about politics—about constraints, notions of responsibility and visions of desirability. The benefits and limits of ethical reflexivity are investigated in a careful consideration of difficult issues in International Relations (IR)—the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and US policies of ‘enhanced interrogation’ and drone strikes. Special attention is paid to the opportunities and impediments to ethical reflexivity within the context of the modern bureaucracy, the state, and international organizations. This study provokes new possibilities for agency and action and contributes to a growing literature on reflexivity by uniquely elaborating its promise as an ethics for politics, and by drawing on thinkers less utilized in discussions of reflexivity such as Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault and Aristotle.
Reflexivity and International Relations: Positionality, Critique, and Practice (with Brent J. Steele, Routledge)
Reflexivity has become a common term in international relations (IR) scholarship with a variety of uses and meanings. Yet for such an important concept and referent, understandings of reflexivity have been more assumed than developed by those who use it, from realists and constructivists to feminists and post-structuralists. Drawing together many key scholars, this text provides a comprehensive and systematic overview of the current reflexivity literature; develops important insights into how reflexivity can play a broader role in IR theory; pushes reflexivity in new, productive directions, and offers more nuanced and concrete specifications of reflexivity; moves reflexivity beyond the scholar and the scholarly field to political practice; and formulates practices of reflexivity.
Virtual Subjectivities and Ethics in World Politics: Cyber-War, Cyber-Health Scares, and Hack-tivism (book project)
This project examines the virtual spaces, times and subjectivities of security and governance in post-modern world politics. With the increasing use of robots, drones and other computer-based technologies as well as the virtualization of commerce, identity, threat, and warfare questions of ethics arise at this intersection of the interpersonal, commercial and political. Proposing that virtual technologies may not follow the typical narrative of new rules, norms and regimes for new technologies, this project explores how the characteristics of virtual exchange including anonymity, the shrinkage of the duration of the present, and the absence of territorial borders, play a role in how the agents of world politics (including its institutions) are re-arranging ontological visions of the world and their place in it. Such rearrangements challenge extant institutional and normative infrastructures of foreign policy, diplomacy and global governance. The virtualization of thought and action in world politics, however, is not complete and thus I explore how actors negotiate the several times and places of politics and are unable to fully resolve their tensions and contradictions. The cases I examine include cyber-war, cyber-health scares and hack-tivism.
Rethinking Ethics and Marginality in World Politics: Queer Sensibilities (book project)
This project begins with the proposition that decentering International Relations (IR) involves both theorizing marginality and theorizing from marginality, a proposition especially neglected in scholarship on ethics in world politics. Turning to one such possibility, this book elaborates several queer sensibilities of ethics and how they have and can further inform world politics. In doing so, I draw on and interpret strands of queer theory as having mobilized various attitudes and metaphors as critiques of dominant institutions, norms and subjectivities (e.g., of neoliberalism, national and global citizenship, and the family), and as radical but micropolitical imaginings and living. While several of these attitudes and metaphors may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable to theorists of politics, I illustrate how inhabiting deviance, marginality and melancholy in world politics as an ethos can facilitate surprising and intriguing possibilities worth considering. These possibilities include a distinct interpretation of micropolitics and its ethical relevance, the formulation of less violent tactics of ethical agency useful to various IR marginalities that include but extend beyond the queer, and the reworking of basic categories and institutions of political life. Demonstrating the promise of a queer/IR dialogue, I emphasize novel readings of the subjects, temporalities and spaces of politics.
Is Faster Better? Reflexive Reconstructions of Space and Time in World Politics (revise and resubmit):
This article critically engages the proposition that in today’s hyper-digitized world we are lost to space and time more intensely than ever before, from optimistic theorizations of economic interdependence to more pessimistic investigations of speed and security. While US culture widely assumes that ‘faster is better’ in politics and economics as we attempt to gather and process as much information as quickly as possible about the farthest expanses of space, political theorists and ethicists often urge us to slow things down. They point to the need for more and better deliberation about extant and emergent relationships and interactions as a desirable quality of ethical and democratic decision-making, particularly in light of social and material factors that enable and prioritize near-immediate judgment and action. Time and space, in other words, threaten to take shape in this (post-) modern world in ways that bypass meaningful ethical agency. Describing three different space-time frames of world politics relative to security and governance trends and crises, such as the use of drones by the United States, the attack on a U.S. diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, and the global spread of disease, I inquire into whether and how our temporal and spatial understandings–especially those that emphasize speed and spatial differentiations organized via discourses of race, gender and ‘failed states’–can be ethically reconstructed via a fourth (meta-) frame of space and time that finds influence in Hannah Arendt’s reflexive capacities of thinking, willing and judging.
A reflexivity that works for us: ethics beyond norms and rules (chapter in Tactical Constructivism: Expressing Method in International Relations, eds. Steele, Gould & Kessler, under review for advance contract)
Constructivism in International Relations claims to have reconciled agency and structure without privileging either, exemplified by widespread references to Anthony Giddens’ sociological concept of co-constitution. The concept of reflexivity is thought to be central to constructivism’s theoretical and methodological efforts and yet, as this chapter argues, reflexivity has been narrowed or sidelined in much constructivist scholarship by a tactical choice in favor of investigating structure. The implications are far-reaching, especially evident in constructivist writing on ethics that tends to find moral force almost exclusively in norms and rules such as those of international or global society. While norm-based constructivist accounts of ethics are at least in part related to certain methodological moves that stem from and serve to further reinforce a concern with structure, an alternative methodological approach might be articulated that frames agency and utilizes methods in ways that recognize and facilitate a reflexive ethics. I seek to outline a more satisfactory link between articulations of agency, methods and ethics. Finally, while ethical reflexivity is not a uniquely constructivist practice of ethics, it avoids some of the pitfalls that have been encountered thus far and it has the additional benefit of overlapping with some of the ethical concerns of critical theory and post-structuralism in IR.
Outlawing Drones? Domestic Policing, Homeland Security and a Federalism of Fear (paper, with Michael C. Pisapia):
In the last few years several U.S. states and cities proposed or took action to limit or ban the use of drones, seemingly challenging extant and emergent federal drone policies and practices. What animates this fear and suspicion about domestic drone use? This paper narrates and examines this recent trend relative to scholarship on federalism and foreign policy. We ask whether the case of drones is different from other local challenges to federal authority, and we seek to locate the extent to which fear of drones is connected to a number of considerations including a general rejection of centralized authority, a specific concern about privacy and policing, a reaction to uses of drones in international politics and their domestic ‘boomerang’, and/or a functionalist response to a regulatory gap between drone practices and airspace regulation. Gathering information about all state and local legislation, examining a few case-studies in more detail, and engaging in process-tracing of legislation relative to national and international events and debates, we argue that the U.S. turn to drones uniquely brings domestic and foreign policy concerns into one policy context with certain dynamics that we tease out. Finally, we observe that the various political challenges and fears we document could and have already began to wane as more local governments stylize themselves drone technology hubs, and as drones become a routine feature of international and domestic landscapes. This is not to say that the use of drones domestically and internationally will converge, however, because of the way in which the U.S. public views domestic and international spaces. This finding is contrary to the usual expectations grounded in the self-other dynamic of enmity in domestic discourse about foreign policy, as evidenced by the large number of Americans who disapprove of the use of armed drones even against suspected foreign terrorists in the United States.
Agency and Restraint: Evaluating Aristotle’s Mean for Political Judgment (paper):
This article explores the question of whether Aristotle’s device of the ‘mean’ as a kind of balance between affective extremes has ethical purchase for judgment as practical reasoning in world politics. While phronesis may be characterized as enabling ethical agency in view of contextualized particulars, Aristotle often referred to the virtues more generally as both contextually appropriate and avoiding affective responses that are of out of proportion and not disciplined by opposing impulses. This task, Aristotle recognized, is enormously difficult and thus he offered a ‘balancing’ strategy for those who struggle to make good decisions. By explaining this strategy and elaborating its tactics I consider whether the ‘mean’ might be a form of political restraint that is an important corollary to judgment. Some of these tactics might be located in the U.S. foreign policy of Barack Obama, and yet these tactics have themselves been the focus of criticism, apart from their outcomes. Thus, if Aristotle’s mean is at least sometimes a form of restraint proper to ethics, we must also consider political receptivity to it, as well as its normative limits.
Reflexive Transformations: confronting difference, complexity and uncertainty (paper, with Kathleen Tipler):
Is reflexivity a useful concept? Can it deliver on its promise of transformation in confronting a world of uncertainty, contingence and difference? What does reflexivity mean, anyway? In this paper two scholars from different fields and with different views on reflexivity engage in a dialogue, interrogating how their work on reflexivity might overlap and diverge and how this both reflects and challenges the wider debate on reflexivity in the field of political science. Some of the questions Amoureux and Tipler pose to one another include: What does reflexivity entail? Where is reflexivity located—is it individual, social, institutional? What is distinctive about reflexivity relative to other devices of reflection and deliberation? Is reflexivity a principle of democracy or good governance? Is political reflexivity different from academic reflexivity and how are the two related? Amoureux and Tipler also discuss whether there are reasons to be concerned about how reflexivity might be co-opted by political actors as a legitimating device, a point of debate between the two that puts into relief reflexivity’s promises, limits, and anxieties as a tool of political and ethical transformation.
POL 269 – Agency and Ethics: Aristotle, Arendt, and Foucault
In this course we will examine the question of what it means to be an agent and to exercise ethical agency through the work of three theorists: Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. In addition to their theoretical arguments about ethical judgment and its political and social context, we will be especially interested in Arendt’s coverage of the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker, Foucault’s interviews on the political issues of his day such as the Iranian revolution and sexual politics, and the examples Aristotle gave of ethical judgment and the obligations of speaker and audience. To consider some of the contemporary challenges to ethical agency in the context of organizational and political cultures we’ll read The Interrogator: An Education by Glenn Carle, a former CIA officer involved in the interrogation of a man identified as a ‘High Valued Target’ in the War on Terror, and The Politics of Exile by Elizabeth Dauphinee, who has written on the ethics of research.
POL 269 – Queer Political Thought
In this class we engage the political thought of a recent literature known as ‘queer theory’ and ‘queer studies’. This interdisciplinary literature issues a variety of challenges to the usual concepts of political theories and poses alternative accounts of political projects and communities that respond to marginality and oppression. The word ‘queer’ in this context is used to broadly describe and empower individuals and communities who occupy a socially and politically marginal position on the basis of sexuality and gender, but these diagnoses and agendas have also been coupled in queer theory with larger political struggles against, for example, capitalism and the nation-state. We will discuss queer critiques of security and violence, the family, neoliberalism, and democracy and citizenship. We will also entertain queer re-imaginings of politics and community that are explicitly ethical claims.
POL 264 – Ethical Dilemmas in International Politics
This class equips students with the conceptual and theoretical tools to identify ethical dilemmas in global politics and foreign policy decisions, inquire into how ethics has been attended to, and consider how practices and traditions of ethics might be transformed. The issues we will examine include: development, foreign aid and global distributive justice; when and how to conduct war; human rights and humanitarian intervention; weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons; non-state actors and violence; whistleblowing and individual responsibility; trauma and the challenges of societal healing; punishment and justice; and the role of technology and simulation in international conflict. In examining these issues we will be attentive to the relationship between power, interests, and normative beliefs.
POL 256 – International Security
In this class we learn about and interrogate an array of approaches to security in world politics. We ask several questions and engage a variety of historical and contemporary texts. When we speak of security who is secured? What do we mean by the concept of security and how is it a contested concept? What are security’s institutions and practices? What are the times and spaces of security? How does security discourse and practice constitute self and other? Does security preclude, allow or necessitate ethics? Should we abandon security? In answering these questions we focus not just on war, but on a variety of objects and notions that have been ‘securitized’ including health, economics, gender, and information.
POL 252 – Human Rights
This course explores the politics and theory of international human rights. We begin the course by asking whether we can speak of human rights as universal or as relative to culture. We then explore the politics of defining an international norm of human rights, considering Western proposals and their challengers. We survey the successes and failures of human rights global governance, including the emergence and institutionalization of a human rights norm, responsiveness to gross violations of human rights such as genocide, and efforts to punish human rights violators through ad hoc courts and the International Criminal Court. Drawing on a variety of historical and contemporary cases we examine the role of states, NGOs and international organizations in the promotion and enforcement of human rights. Finally, we consider how well theories of International Relations explain the politics of human rights. Some of the topics covered include genocide, labor practices and development, torture, humanitarian intervention, the rights of women and children, and the International Criminal Court.
POL 116 – International Politics
This course serves as an introduction to many of the theories, concepts, issues and problems found in the academic study of international politics. We will trace the historical emergence of the states system and its major characteristics, entertain various explanations of violence and economic inequality in the world, address the importance of identity and difference for politics, and inquire into how well states have addressed environmental challenges that threaten to overwhelm possibilities for cooperation.