Ayşe Zarakol: Background
I am a Professor (Grade 12) of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, where I also have an appointment as a Politics Fellow at Emmanuel College.
I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey and moved to the US to attend Middlebury College, Vermont (BA in Political Science and Classical Studies). My graduate degrees are from University of Wisconsin - Madison (MA and PhD in Political Science). After graduation I first worked as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Politics at Washington & Lee University, Virginia, until I moved to Cambridge University in 2013.
My research is at the intersection of historical sociology and IR, focusing on East-West relations in the international system, history and future of world order(s), conceptualisations of modernity and sovereignty, rising and declining powers, and Turkish politics in a comparative perspective. My articles have appeared in journals such as International Organization, American Political Science Review, International Affairs, International Theory, International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies etc. (for a full list see here). In addition my academic writing, I also regularly author policy memos, edited book chapters, book reviews and blog pieces for more general audiences.
My first book was After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which deals with international stigmatisation and the integration of defeated non-Western powers (Turkey after WWI, Japan after WWII and Russia after the Cold War) into the international order. This book was also published in Turkish as Yenilgiden Sonra: Doğu Batı ile Yaşamayı Nasıl Öğrendi from Koç University Press (2012), with a new introduction I wrote for Turkish readers. A second Turkish edition was published in 2019. Between 2013 and 2017, I oversaw an international collaboration aimed at changing our conception of the modern international system, which produced among others things the edited volume Hierarchies in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017) [runner up for 2019 ISA Theory section prize].
My most recent book Before the West: the Rise and Fall of Eastern World Orders advances an alternative global history for IR focused on (Eur)asia and was published in March 2022 by Cambridge University Press. In this book I re-theorise sovereignty, order and decline from a more global perspective that starts from Inner Asia in the thirteenth century. Before the West has won four book prizes to date: the 2023 Guicciardini best book prize from the ISA HIST section, 2023 Yale H. Ferguson best book prize from the ISA-NE Conference, an Honourable Mention from the ISA THEORY section and an Honourable Mention from the APSA Jervis-Schroeder best book in International Politics and History prize. (Click here for more, including reviews.)
I was recently awarded a two year Knowledge Frontiers Grant by the British Academy to oversee a collaboration of IR scholars and historians to study historical periods of disorder in comparison with the present.
In addition to the British Academy, my research has been recognised by a number of other funding institutions and professional associations: I have held fellowships funded by the Council on Foreign Affairs (as IAF), CRASSH (University of Cambridge), the Norwegian Nobel Institute and European Research Council. I have held visiting positions at the US Congressional Research Service, the University of Copenhagen, Australian National University, University of Queensland, College of Europe (Natolin) and Tel Aviv University. This December I will be a visiting fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin, and next March at McGill University.
I currently sit on the editorial boards of the following journals: Review of International Studies, International Theory, International Relations, International Studies Review, International Political Science Review, Conflict and Cooperation, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Global Constitutionalism, Relaciones Internacionales and New Area Studies. I am also serving on the Scientific Advisory Board of Sciences Po (5 year term). I am also on a number of other advisory bodies for organisations such as British American Security Information Council (BASIC), Reimagining World Order Program (Princeton), the Quincy Institute (project for a Positive Alternative to the Current “Rules-Based Order”), International Orders Research Unit (LSE), the Centre for Statecraft and International Order (Roskilde). Since 2010, I have been a member of the PONARS Eurasia international academic network which advances new policy approaches to research and security in Russia and Eurasia.
Note: I am currently serving on the editorial team at International Organization as one of the two Associate Editors (for a five-year term, 2022-7). I still review for other journals but my availability is much more limited.
Last updated Autumn 2023.