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Chapter

Cover Security Studies: Critical Perspectives

2. Security  

This chapter addresses the question of ‘what security is’. It begins by exploring the history of security as a concept and practice emerging out of the long nineteenth century. The chapter shows security's inherent ties to colonialism and imperialism. It then suggests that security can be seen as an achievable threshold/goal whose progress can be measured, or as an ongoing process that is never complete. Either way, security is a form of political mobilization that acts upon our worlds through the prism of threats and risks, creating conditions of possibility and impossibility. The chapter concludes that the ubiquity of security demands that we ask how it defines our relations with others and with ourselves in shaping socio-political orders. To ask ‘what is security?’ is ultimately to answer the question, ‘what does security do?’.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

12. Postcolonialism  

Shampa Biswas

This chapter examines postcolonial approaches to International Relations (IR) and their foregrounding of the history and politics of colonialism in the making of the modern world. It first considers the concerns, issues, and preoccupations highlighted by postcolonial theory, along with some of the central debates that have shaped its intellectual terrain, and the normative and political commitments that distinguish it from other related fields such as Marxism and poststructuralism. It then discusses the relevance of postcolonialism to the study of international relations and proposes three different ways of engaging with the insights of postcolonial theory within IR that open up new questions, alternative methodologies, and a range of possibilities for narrating a postcolonial IR. Finally, it analyses international concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapons programme from a postcolonial perspective.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

31. Human rights  

Ratna Kapur

This chapter looks at human rights, analysing the structure and politics of human rights in the twenty-first century. In particular, the chapter examines the influence of liberal internationalism on human rights and how this is shaped by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, apartheid, and engagements with sexual, religious, and racial differences. The chapter encourages questions about whether rights are universal instruments of emancipation, or whether the rights are more complex, contradictory, and contingent in their functioning. The chapter also sets out the dominant understandings of human rights as progressive, universal, and based on a common human subject. Human rights advocates sometimes differ on the strategies to be adopted to address violations; these can have material, normative, and structural consequences that are not always empowering. These competing positions are illustrated through two case studies: one on the Islamic veil bans in Europe and the second on LGBT human rights interventions.

Chapter

Cover Poverty and Development

13. Colonialism, Capitalism, Development  

Henry Bernstein

This chapter discusses some of the connections between colonialism, capitalism, and development. The making of colonial economies — through the organization of commodity production and trade by colonial states, settlers, and companies — entailed the 'breaking' of existing patterns of production and social existence, of whole ways of life. This process was encapsulated in the formation and functioning of colonial labour regimes. Other aspects of social and cultural change under colonialism also contributed to new forms of social differentiation among the colonized, and exposed the contradictions of colonial rule, not least in challenging its legitimacy. The European colonial empires were dismantled in the decades following the Second World War: anti-colonial movements became stronger, and international capitalism led by the USA no longer required the direct political rule of Asia and Africa (an 'imperialism without colonies'), while the proclamation of strategies of 'national development' by the newly independent states assimilated many of the tensions and ambiguities of the 'doctrines of development' of the era of (industrial) capitalist colonialism.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

5. New Waves of Theorizing in Global Politics  

This chapter evaluates new modes of theorizing in global politics. These are based on long-standing concerns in social and political theory and all of them involve identity politics in one way or another—a form of politics in which an individual’s membership of a group, based on certain distinctive characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality, acquires significant political salience and is implicated in hierarchies of power. It follows that identity itself involves issues of both who an individual is, and who that individual is not. This involves not just self-identification or self-definition, but is also mediated by the perceptions of others. In some cases there are connections with social movements concerned with issues of justice and equality in both domestic and global spheres. In almost all cases the specific issues of concern, and their theorization, have come relatively late to the agenda of global politics and so may be said to constitute a ‘new wave’ of theorizing in the discipline. The chapter looks at feminism, gender theory, racism, cultural theory, colonialism, and postcolonial theory.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

32. Human rights  

Ratna Kapur

This chapter looks at human rights, analysing the structure and politics of human rights in the twenty-first century. In particular, the chapter examines the influence of liberal internationalism on human rights and how this is shaped by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, apartheid, and engagements with sexual, religious, and racial differences. The chapter encourages questions about whether rights are universal instruments of emancipation, or whether the rights are more complex, contradictory, and contingent in their functioning. The chapter also sets out the dominant understandings of human rights as progressive, universal, and based on a common human subject. Human rights advocates sometimes differ on the strategies to be adopted to address violations; these can have material, normative, and structural consequences that are not always empowering. These competing positions are illustrated through two case studies: one on the Islamic veil bans in Europe and the second on same-sex, queer relationships, LGBTQ rights, and colonial laws.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

16. Introducing Global Politics  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter discusses global politics in relation to the phenomenon of globalization. ‘Global politics’ as a field of study encompasses the traditional concerns of International Relations with how states interact under conditions of anarchy, but lays greater emphasis on the role of non-state actors and processes in a globalizing world. The chapter first provides an overview of politics in a globalizing world before explaining the basic distinctions between ‘state’ and ‘nation’ in the context of contemporary global politics. It then considers the variation in state forms and the phenomenon of empire throughout history as well as the historical emergence of the modern state and state system in Europe along with ideas about sovereignty and nationalism against the background of ‘modernity’. It also examines the effective globalization of the European state system through modern imperialism and colonialism and the extent to which these have been productive of contemporary global order.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

8. Empire  

This chapter contests the myth that imperialism has ended by showing how imperial attitudes, racialised power hierarchies, and material inequalities that structured the era of empires remain in place today. It discusses why the field of International Relations conventionally sidelined the issues of imperialism and racism. Dismantling structural racism and imperialism requires long-term work on many fronts. Campaigns combining Postcolonial and Decolonial theories like ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ and ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ have resulted in new publications and toolkits that decolonise the university. The chapter also recognises the need to review programmes, modules, and reading lists to include perspectives from outside the West, as colonialism and imperialism are at work in core disciplinary concepts and theories.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

17. Burke  

David Boucher

This chapter examines Edmund Burke's political thought. It first provides a short biography of Burke before discussing the three main interpretations of him: first, as a utilitarian; second, in relation to natural law; and the third, which attempts to bring together the two antithetical interpretations. It argues that even though Burke has elements of utilitarianism in his thought, and although he subscribes to natural law and universal principles, both somehow have to coincide in the traditions and institutional practices of a community. On the question of political obligation, although he uses the language of contract, it is clear that Burke does not subscribe to its central tenets. The chapter proceeds by exploring Burke's views on sovereignty, constitutionalism, colonialism, and slavery.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

16. Introducing Global Politics  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter discusses global politics in relation to the phenomenon of globalization. ‘Global politics’ as a field of study encompasses the traditional concerns of International Relations with how states interact under conditions of anarchy but lays greater emphasis on the role of non-state actors and processes in a globalizing world. The chapter first provides an overview of politics in a globalizing world before explaining the basic distinctions between ‘state’ and ‘nation’ in the context of contemporary global politics. It then considers the variation in state forms and the phenomenon of empire throughout history as well as the historical emergence of the modern state and state system in Europe along with ideas about sovereignty and nationalism against the background of ‘modernity’. It also examines the effective globalization of the European state system through modern imperialism and colonialism and the extent to which these have been productive of contemporary global order.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

37. Dipesh Chakrabarty  

Eva-Maria Nag

This chapter presents an overview of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s contribution to political thinking that is concerned with the human condition in the age of climate change. The chapter examines Chakrabarty’s argument that human-centred ways of thinking about the world and humanity are no longer appropriate. Moreover, Chakrabarty makes the case for bringing together natural and human history; for humans having become a geological force upon the planet; for capitalism having only a limited role in climate change; and for a new focus on planetary history, not merely human history. This chapter presents, Chakrabarty as a postcolonial historian and political thinker and then examines his conceptualization of the Anthropocene as a new historical and planetary era. This chapter further explores the complex connections between freedom, capitalism, and climate change. Chakrabarty insists the era of climate change needs new political perspectives beyond critiques of capitalism, colonialism, and globalization.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

24. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak  

Nikita Dhawan

This chapter examines the works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who is known for her contribution to postcolonial studies, revolving around gender justice, human rights, and democracy. Spivak criticizes the Eurocentric and male-centric nature and exclusionary framings of political subjectivity. The chapter explains how colonialism revolves around military domination, economic exploitation, and subject constitution, thus explaining that decolonization cannot be achieved simply through transferring power from Europeans to the native elites. Spivak offers a countermodel of individual and collective agency which enhances our understanding of normativity in the era of globalization. The chapter also covers the relation between the European Enlightenment and the postcolonial condition while exploring Spivak’s contribution to the process of decolonizing the Enlightenment. It considers the concept of planetary ethics, which entails forsaking formulas for solving global problems and critical self-vigilance on the part of transnational elites as significant aspects of ethico-political practice.

Chapter

Cover Poverty and Development

14. The Power of Colonial States  

David Potter and Alan Thomas

This chapter examines Western European colonial rule. Colonialism and its legacies are enduringly controversial. Whether or not colonial rule had redeeming features, it is useful to recognize its major political features, which include its international dimension, bureaucratic elitism and authoritarianism, use of 'traditional' or 'customary' public authority in colonial society, use of force, technological advantage, statism, and hegemonic ideology. Being cognizant of these features equips us to get at least an initial bearing on the question of how colonial rule was maintained. The same list of aspects of colonial rule can also be used to ask questions about why European rule ended when it did, and to help understand the legacies of colonialism, including cultural dependency, distinctive features of contemporary post-colonial states, and problems of state-led development.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Indigenous Rights and Language Sovereignty  

Odilia Romero, Joseph Berra, and Shannon Speed

This chapter covers indigenous rights and language sovereignty. It discusses the underlying logic and role of settler colonialism in the dispossession and erasure of Indigenous people. Human rights practice lies at the intersection of languages, Indigeneity, and sovereignty. The human rights world has been primarily dominated by a Western colonial mindset as the dispossession and forced migration of Indigenous people resulted in the erasure of identities and persistence of racial hierarchies, overt racism, and cultural biases. The chapter clarifies that language is not neutral as the approach and access to language needs to be decolonized and language is inextricably linked to cultural identity. It also expounds on how human rights could harm Indigenous language knowledge keepers by referencing the work of Communidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO) on language rights and language sovereignty.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the Developing World

2. Colonialism and Post-Colonial Development  

James Chiriyankandath

This chapter examines the impact of colonialism on post-colonial political development. It first provides an overview of the post-colonial world, noting how politics in developing countries are influenced by their pre-colonial heritage as well as colonial and post-colonial experiences. In particular, it considers post-colonial theory, which addresses the continuing impact that colonialism has on post-colonial development. The chapter proceeds by describing pre-colonial states and societies such as Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australasia, where varying patterns of state formation influenced both the kind of colonization that they experienced and their post-colonial development. It also considers colonial patterns in the post-colonial world and the occurrence of decolonization before concluding with an assessment of the legacy of colonialism to post-colonial states.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

11. Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu  

Manjeet Ramgotra

This chapter examines the political theory and writings of French Enlightenment thinker, Montesquieu. It contends that Montesquieu’s constitutional theory of the separation of powers promoted a strong government which advanced individual freedom, maintained internal stability against absolutism and populism, and allowed the state to expand its boundaries at a moment in history when European powers were fighting each other to establish colonial empires across the world. The chapter presents the contexts in which he composed The Spirit of the Laws (1748), and then discusses Montesquieu’s typology of governments and considers the various notions of time and progress that undergird his view of how the various constitutions in the world are ordered. Finally, the chapter looks at commerce, peace, colonialism, and slavery, bringing to light the tensions and contradictions in Montesquieu’s thought.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

28. Frantz Fanon  

Keally Mcbride

This chapter offers a brief account of Frantz Fanon’s life and experiences, which provided the material for his analysis of the psychology of racialized colonialism. The chapter investigates his account of the psychology of race and gender with in a world where such categories operate to organize privileges. Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1962) examines the violence of colonization and decolonization, especially with respect to the use of revolutionary violence and the struggles of transforming liberation movements into long-lasting regimes providing freedom. Moreover, Fanon’s prediction of the systemic dysfunctions of postcolonial regimes provides valuable tools for analysing contemporary global politics. The chapter also acknowledges Fanon’s ultimate message that overcoming oppression means accepting collective responsibility for making and remaking the world, regardless of conditions.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

10. Human Security  

Randolph B. Persaud

This chapter examines the concept of human security. It does so in descriptive, analytical, and empirical terms, drawing on both the scholarly and policy-relevant literatures. The chapter describes the development of human security, with references to the academic literature where necessary. Accordingly, the emergence, contribution, and impact of the most important drivers of human security, especially in institutional terms, are examined. These include the 1994 UNDP Human Development Report (HDR), the Commission for Human Security, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, the Millennium Development Goals, and the International Criminal Court. The chapter takes up a recurring question about the newness of human security by looking at its intellectual and institutional genealogy. The chapter provides a detailed overview of the most trenchant critiques of human security. These critiques are placed into the following categories—too broad to be useful; national interest and co-optation; reformist tool of global capitalism; and neo-colonialism.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

31. W.E.B. Du Bois  

Elvira Basevich

This chapter discusses W.E.B. Du Bois’s political thought and strategies for political advocacy which primarily focus on the politics of race, colonialism, gender, and labour. It also explains the key concepts in Du Bois’s criticism of how the white supremacist ideology shaped modern societies to create the colour line and to exclude members of vulnerable groups. These concepts include the doctrine of racialism, double consciousness, and Pan-Africanism. The chapter recognizes Du Bois’s contributions to Black feminist thought and American labour politics, which inspired major social justice movements in the twentieth century. Thus, Du Bois’s political thought shored up the contradictions in the liberal principles of freedom and equality for all.