Fred Halliday and ‘The Mid-Atlantic Journal of Inverted Abstraction’

The next few days at LSE will see a number of events celebrating the life, and exploring the ideas, of the late Fred Halliday. Indulging in some narcissism-by-proxy, we’re pointing out that there’s an early assessment of his intellectual trajectory and legacy by Alex Colás and George Lawson freely available from Millennium (already mentioned elsewhere).

The Mid-Atlantic Journal of Inverted Abstraction was an imaginary output for work Halliday deemed excessively introverted or self-regarding. There is some argument to be had about that attitude to (some) theory. But not now. Instead, a few other choice Fred-isms:

History repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, the third time as a fad in IR theory.

The ESRC is a four letter word.

One good post-graduate seminar is worth a thousand anti-ageing creams.

In his less charitable moments, he is said to have spoken of ‘Floor 7 Disease’, referring to the Millennium office, as a catch-all for the navel-gazing abstracters in our midst. It seems appropriate to point that many of the other Millennium articles currently (if temporarily) freed from the tyranny of the paywall, to my mind at least, resist such a dismissal. I would particularly recommend Gideon Baker‘s historical-reconstruction-cum-Derridean-intervention on hospitality and haunting in the colonial encounter:

The neglected history of hospitality teaches us that unconditional hospitality, such as that which Montezuma showed to Cortés, can unleash an annihilating violence in which sovereignty and identity, much more than being ‘problematised’, are obliterated in an orgy of violence. The ghost of Montezuma reminds us that unlimited hospitality is haunted too. The Spanish, totalling around 300 men, were outnumbered a thousand to one; Montezuma could have prevailed and his homeland could have survived, at least for a time, if he had not offered an unconditional welcome.

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