The Lived International is a poetic account of Stephen Chan’s personal engagement in International Relations. It speaks to the inadequacy of an abstract voyeurism while the problems of the world are death, devastation and underdevelopment. Drawn from a lifetime of travel and engagement, and from both published and hitherto unpublished poetry, forming a parallel list to the author’s academic works, the book seeks to inject into debate the sense that language, spoken and written discourse alone, are not a sufficient claim to ‘bearing witness’, and that even activism from afar can often fail to understand a human condition that afflicts the majority of the world’s population. Chan demonstrates that a life of praxis, living international relations, yields more insights than a life of theory alone.
Stephen Chan was awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2010 – ‘For services to Africa and Higher Education’ – the same year he was awarded the International Studies Association accolade, Eminent Scholar in Global Development. Earlier a newspaper editor and literary publisher, and an international civil servant stationed in Africa, he has held responsible positions – including Deanships – at three British universities; held the George Soros Chair at the Central European University, and the Konrad Adenauer Chair at the elite Palestinian Bir Zeit University, among a string of other named and honorific appointments. He is Professor of World Politics at SOAS University of London, remains seconded to diplomatic engagements in Africa and the Middle East and heads the philanthropic Kwok Meil Wah Foundation. He has published 36 earlier scholarly books, five volumes of poetry, and three novels.
1. Receiving the International
2. Facing the International
3. Facing the Local
4. Facing the Contradictions
5. Facing the Tragedies
6. Facing Down History
7. Facing the Tragedy of Our Days
8. The Academy and the International
Oscillating between memoir, travelogue and poems, Stephen Chan offers a fascinating glimpse of a life well lived: as an activist, as a diplomat, as a scholar-teacher and as a policy adviser. He takes us from New Zealand to Sub-Saharan Africa and from the Middle East to East Asia, providing astute insights into key political challenges that define our time.
Through the eyes of Prof. Stephen Chan, The Lived International brings to life the messy, moving human relationships at the hinges of History, inviting us to hear behind the neat doctrines of International Relations textbooks: ‘Will they fire? Will they not fire?’ Stephen Chan lands this praxis with poetic grace and wit in a book that is part autobiography, part political narrative, and wholly a call from the heart for each of us to play our part for a better, more peaceful world.
Stephen Chan has done everything all before. Whatever innovations we have made in international relations — autoethnography, poetry, narratives, novels, the practical turn, the aesthetic turn — are already here in his book and in his life. This unique memoir charts Chan as a witness and an actor in a complex, exciting, and unjust world. We are witness to his precise, elegant, and insightful prose as he takes us on adventures involving war, mediation, and peacemaking in places such as China, New Zealand, Zambia, London, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Algeria, South Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jerusalem, Turkey, Qatar, and Trinidad. Chan lives the international in a way that models what we might all aspire to. This book is serious fun that aims for the true and the good.
Following Stephen Chan anywhere, you never know what to expect, and his memoir is no different. He takes the reader through war zones, backroom negotiations, and karate clubs for a front-row view of how geopolitical transformations in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia unfold. A nationally recognized poet and world-ranked expert in the martial arts, Chan writes with razor-sharp wit and extraordinary warmth.
*Poetic and literary work that seeks to do what logical and academic work often cannot.
*Accounts of personal involvement and the lived difficulty of norms.