This semester, I have one class and am doing comps prep (preparing for my comprehensive examinations).

I am in an International Relations PhD program at FIU, where I focus on foreign policy and security—with a broad concentration on International Relations and the Caribbean.

My Comprehensive Exams will consist of 5 questions— 2 belonging to core IR theory, 2 on my 2 major focuses: foreign policy + security, and 1 on my minor concentration: Caribbean politics.

The good thing is, that I have read many of these books before and have taken extensive notes on them. I have highlighted material that I am confident with below. The bad thing is, at face value, the whole preparation aspect of it can seem daunting.

I am just taking it one step at a time. [Also, just because something is not highlighted does not mean that I have not engaged with the author, article, or book– I just haven’t engaged with that specific person or material well enough, to give you a 2 minute speech on what they essentially advocate/argue]

Below I detail what I am studying for, for my comps.

If something is highlighted, it means that I’ve read it in depth many times and have a lot of notes on it, to the point that I am not worried about it at all…

CORE #1: For the more traditional aspect of IR theory, I am studying these topics/themes/scholars below:

Realism (defensive, offensive, classical), (Social) Constructivism, Liberalism, Carr, Morgenthau, Niebuhr, Bull, Wendt, the Security Dilemma, the Cold war as analysed by the different schools of thought, the Democratic Peace Theory (/Hypothesis), Economic Structuralism, Larger Debates in the Philosophy of Science (Kuhn, Popper, Toulmin, Habermas), the Major Debates post Carr’s “Twenty Years Crisis,” Neoliberal Institutionalism, Anarchy, Role of International Institutions + Organizations in IR theoryCORE 2: In relation to my dissertation, the standout theme in this subset of traditional (“canon”) texts for alternative ways of viewing the world are divided in these categories below:

Race & Globalism/Globalisms from Below 

Michael W. Doyle, Liberal Peace:Selected Essays

Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason

Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract

Denise Ferrira da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race

Ann Laura Stoler, Duress: Imperial Durabilities in our Times

Daniel Levine, Recovering International Relations: The Promise of Sustainable Critique

Robert Cox, Social Forces, States, and World Order: beyond International Relations Theory Millennium

Jodi Melamed, Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism

George J. Sefa Dei, Reframing Blackness and Black Solidarities through Anti-colonial and Decolonial Prisms

Post-Colonial Theory

Robert Young, White Mythologies

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe

Edward Said, Orientalism

Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large

Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic

Early Black Political Thought

Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

WEB DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

Find some interesting essays by Sylvia Wynter

CLR James, The Black Jacobins

Political Economy

Saidiya Hartman, Lose your Mother

Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity

Some key articles here


Julian Go, Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory

Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations

MAJOR #1: The first major topic is security and in my security major, I am currently studying and could be potentially tested on these give themes:

  1. Thinking and Framing Security and Strategy: Continuity and Change
  2. Security, Securitization, War, Coercion and the “Three Images”
  3. Is War an Extension of Politics?
  4. Revolution, National and International Security
  5. In Search of a Benevolent Hegemony? A “Hobbesian Order,” A “Kantian Paradise,” or a “Groatian Compromise?”

The scholars that I am expected to study closer are:

Buzan & Hansen, Kay, Art & Greenhill, Mahnken & Maiolo, Smith, Katzenstein, Waever & Buzan, Acharya, Kane & London, Gray, Freedman, Barash, Augustine, Hobbes, Bodin, Schelling, Jepperson, Wendt, De Mesquita, Booth, Desch, Der Derian, Enloe, Tycker, Sjöberg, Lebow, Betts, Bilgin, Yongtao, Tycker & Hez, van Creveld, Williams, Mitzen, Metcalf, Howard, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Vasquez, Leander, Lind, Biddle, Cohen, Battle, Maye, Lanis, Kaldor, Sylvester, Owens, Gordon, Milevski, Snow, Tse-Tung, Goldstone, Walt, Halliday, Cohen & Crane, Gentile, Arendt, Kissinger, Brzezinski, Kagn, Wallerstein, Agnew, Ikenberry & Slaughter, Layne, Measheimer, Blank, Legrenzi, Ehteshami, Escobar, Dorsey, Mesbahi & Homayounvash, Turse, Youngs, Morvchick, ECFR, Freeman, Alison, Buruma, and Kaplan

MAJOR #2: The second major topic is U.S. foreign policy and these are the books and articles, along with the authors, that I will be re-reading in more depth for this topic:

Anderson, American Foreign Policy and its Thinkers

Chomsky & Vitchek, The Decline of U.S. PowerLeffler, The American Conception of National Security & the Beginning of the Cold War, 1945-8

Ikenberry, Rethinking the Origins of American Hegemony; The Plot Against American Foreign Policy: Can the Liberal Order Survive

Fordham, Economic Interests, Party and Ideology in Early Cold War Era US Foreign Policy

R. Cox, Transnational Capital and the Politics of the Global Supply Chains

Mitchell & Massoud, Anatomy of a Failure: Bush’s Decision-Making Process and the Iraq War

Marsh, Obama’s Surge: A Bureaucratic Politics Analysis of the Decision to Authorize a Surge in Afghanistan

Allison, Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Layne, Peace of Illusions

Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics

Bacevich, The New American Militarism

Thorpe, The American Warfare State: The Domestic Politics of Military Spending

Stokes & Raphael, Global Energy Security and American Hegemony

Hope, The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory

Jackson, Culture, Identity, and Hegemony: Continuity and the (lack of) Change in US Counterterrorism Policy from Bush to Obama

Eliassen Restad, Old Paradigms in History Die Hard in Political Science: US Foreign Policy and American Exceptionalism

Baum & Potter, The Relationships Between Mass Media, Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis

Gilens & Page, Testing Theories of American Politics

Measheimer, Walt, Wheatcroft, Pfaff, Levy, Massad, Chomsky & Mazower, The Israeli Lobby

R.W. Cox, The Military-Industrial Complex and U.S. Military Spending After 9/11

Scahill, The Assassination Complex

Keller, Democracy Betrayed: The Rise of the Surveillance Security State

Klare, Trump the Hawk

Gordon, A Vision of Trump at War: How the President Could Stumble into Conflict

Englehardt, The Honeymoon of the Generals

MINOR #1: Caribbean politics, topics and texts TBD