One theme dominated politics in Edinburgh this year — the Independence Referendum and its implications for Scottish Politics. James Mitchell’s The Scottish Question – one of the Independent’s books of the year 2014 – set the stage for many of these discussions, putting debates on the rise of modern Scottish nationalism and the independence referendum into a wider context and challenging misconceptions and mythologies that have grown up around Scottish politics. Mitchell also co-edited After independence with Gerry Hassan which brought both pro- and anti-independence perspectives to bear on the question of the referendum. Mitchell then went on to analyse the implications of the Scottish vote in the 2015 General Election, with a chapter in Britain Votes 2015. Nicola McEwen and Bettina Petersohn also move the debate on, looking at the challenges of shared rule after the referendum.
Andy Thompson ensured that Scotland’s innovative approach to healthcare would not be neglected. In a chapter co-authored with David Steel, he sets out how Scotland’s emphasis on partnership working and mutuality between citizens and the State, and opposition to markets and privatization differs from that of our neighbours.
Energy and public engagement in policy-making occupied several of our colleagues. Oliver Escobar’s research explores how we can better involve citizens in decision-making. Focusing on the issue of onshore wind farm development in Scotland, Escobar’s report provides detailed proposals for how to involve communities in public deliberation. Elizabeth Bomberg took a different angle on controversial energy policies in her article examining competing political discourses surrounding shale extraction in the UK. She argues that the anti-shale coalition in the UK has been effective in getting its message across: firstly, because the pro-shale coalition lacks trustworthy messengers; secondly, because shale opponents have successfully expanded the debate beyond economic or environmental concerns to include potent issues of local power and democracy. Elin Royles & Nicola McEwen explore emission reduction programmes and renewable energy in Scotland and Wales in an Environmental Politics article. They conclude that constitutionally provided powers only partially explain the nations’ ambitions, while civil society and territorial distinctiveness also shape their policy goals.
Immigration and asylum policy were also significant issues on the public agenda this year. Christina Boswell’s article in Public Administration shows how asylum targets designed to steer public administration were overly technical, and failed to resonate with the public. On the other hand, politically designed targets created huge pressure on the Home Office to deliver unfeasible outcomes. Shaun Bevan also published in Public Administration with an article that provides a new avenue for research on bureaucracy by approaching it as a unique policy-making institution. Further abroad Julie Kaarbo explores how the ‘grand’ theories of international relations are increasingly incorporating domestic politics and decision-making factors. In a June 2015 article, she proposes that a foreign policy analysis perspective challenges some of the assumptions in these theories.
Ewan Stein produced a series of publications that look at the intellectual trends in the Middle East and an exploration of how the term jihad is used and what it means in the twenty-first century, as well as an article in Democratization with Frederic Volpi on ‘Islamism and the State after the Arab Uprisings’. In a Current History article, Sara Dorman explores how nationalism in Africa can be both a bottom-up and a top-down process. While in an article on urban removals in Zimbabwe, she explores how ideas about urban planning reflect and shape notions of citizenship and representation. In a chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies, Dorman argued that citizenship in Africa must be understood as more than simply the ‘politics of belonging’, while Xavier Guillaume argued that it is more fruitful to think of citizenship as a ‘regime’ rather than an ‘institution’ or a formal status, through consideration of the French ‘veil’ debates.
In December 2014, Fiona MacKay and Georgina Waylen published a co-edited Special Issue on ‘Gendering “New” Institutions’ in Politics & Gender. Drawing upon cases ranging from the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) innovative gender mandate, to the involvement of women in peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and South Africa, the Special Issue aims to improve our understanding of the gender dynamics of institutional change and reform. Claire Duncanson’s article in Men and Masculinities theorises how more positive gender relations might come about, drawing on research on militarised masculinities. Andrea Birdsall’s article “The Responsibility to Prosecute and the ICC: A Problematic Relationship?” formed part of a symposium on the ICC and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) which was published in Criminal Law Forum. It addresses the links between the ICC and the R2P and the implications of their developments in the context of Libya and Syria. It argues that the principles of ending impunity and holding individuals accountable for their actions are not questioned by the international society, but that the main problem is how this can be done in a politically sustainable way. Carmen Gebhard and Simon Smith also look at questions of institutional co-operation in their article exploring how the EU and NATO co-operate in practice, at the operational level off the Somali coast, despite having no formal links.
Textbooks are also on our agenda, with Andrew Neal co-editing and contributing to a guide to Critical Security Methods. This text, which also includes a contribution from Xavier Guillaume, challenges scholars of critical security studies to consider how the practices they study (surveillance, data mining etc) are themselves research methods, while also seeing their own research methods as practices that intervene and interfere in those sites of security and insecurity. Meanwhile, Charles Raab and co-authors, Richard Jones and Iván Székely explore the relationship between surveillance and resilience in the context of counter-terrorism. They suggest that surveillance, introduced in name of greater security, may itself erode social freedoms and public goods such as privacy, possibly instigating societal resilience, whether precautionary or in mitigation of the harms it causes to the public goods of free societies.
John Peterson further developed his well-known co-edited textbook on the European Union, with the 4th edition of The European Union: How Does it Work? which includes new and updated coverage of the EU’s response to the Eurozone crisis, the Ukrainian crisis, and the possibility of the UK’s exit from the Union. And in Parochial Global Europe: 21st Century Trade Politics, Peterson and co-author Alasdair Young provide a new analytical framework that helps explain why the EU seeks to be a global trading power but often ends up acting parochially in defense of its narrow economic interests. Meanwhile Chad Damro’s article in the Journal of European Public Policy looked at how trade power could be conceptualized and integrated into analysis of the EU and its international influence. While in the Review of International Political Economy Kristen Hopewell’s article “Different Paths to Power: The Rise of Brazil, India and China at the WTO” examined new players on the world trade stage with an examination of the differences between how Brazil, India and China have taken their places at the WTO. Jana Hoenke also cast a critical eye at the Business for Peace agenda, highlighting the unintended consequences and negative effects that come with top-down, centralized approaches.