Anachronistic Research in International Relations and Security Studies in Rethinking Security in the Twenty-First Century

Jaap de Wilde

Palgrave Macmillan



Anachronisms are widely used in the social sciences and humanities, yet hardly studied. The construction of historical narratives is problematic due to the projection of contemporary thinking. Even more problematic is the use of historical analogies for future planning. Projection of nineteenth-century state-centric geopolitical thinking is especially problematic, reifying an exceptional period in European history that culminated in two world wars (the Thirty Years War, 1914–1945, and the Cold War, 1945–1991). Still, anachronistic thinking is unavoidable, both in trying to understand the past and in trying to plan for the future. Therefore, the awareness of anachronisms needs to be raised, and the arsenal of “lessons from history” needs to be expanded to enrich the options for developing new security policies.

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