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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 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 Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

8. Post-positivist Approaches: Post-structuralism, Postcolonialism, Feminism  

This chapter examines post-positivist approaches in international relations (IR). Post-positivism rejects any claim of an established truth valid for all. Instead, its focus is on analysing the world from a large variety of political, social, cultural, economic, ethnic, and gendered perspectives. The chapter considers three of the most important issues taken up by post-positivist approaches: post-structuralism, which is concerned with language and discourse; postcolonialism, which adopts a post-structural attitude in order to understand the situation in areas that were conquered by Europe, particularly Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and feminism, which argues that women are a disadvantaged group in the world, in both material terms and in terms of a value system which favours men over women. It also reflects on recent calls for ‘Global IR’, where voices from outside of Western research environments are heard. The chapter concludes with an overview of criticisms against post-positivist approaches and the post-positivist research programme.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

11. Postcolonial and decolonial approaches  

Meera Sabaratnam

This chapter looks at postcolonial and decolonial approaches to studying world politics, arguing that these are multi-layered and diverse. These do not constitute a single ‘theory’ of the international but rather a set of orientations think about it. The chapter starts by separating a number of different elements involved in theorizing the world, and how postcolonial and decolonial approaches look at them. These include questions of epistemology, ontology, and norms or ethics. It then examines the historical context in which postcolonial and decolonial approaches arose, showing that there was a dynamic relationship between political struggles for decolonization and the development of different intellectual arguments. It considers where postcolonial and decolonial approaches have emerged and where they depart from each other in terms of analysis and focus. Having traced these traditions through the twentieth century, the chapter describes the key concepts used in postcolonial and decolonial thought across different disciplines, before looking at their impact on the field of international relations (IR). The chapter also explores the similarities and differences between different approaches and other theories in the field of IR. Finally, it contemplates the on-going popularity of postcolonial and decolonial approaches in the present day.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

10. Postcolonial and decolonial approaches  

Meera Sabaratnam

This chapter looks at postcolonial and decolonial approaches to studying world politics, arguing that these are multilayered and diverse. These do not constitute a single ‘theory’ of the international but rather a set of orientations to show how to think about it. The chapter starts by separating a number of different elements involved in theorizing the world, and how postcolonial and decolonial approaches look at them. These include questions of epistemology, ontology, and norms or ethics. It then examines the historical context in which postcolonial and decolonial approaches arose, showing that there was a dynamic relationship between political struggles for decolonization and the development of different intellectual arguments. It considers where postcolonial and decolonial approaches have emerged and where they depart from each other in terms of analysis and focus. Having traced these traditions through the twentieth century, the chapter describes the key concepts used in postcolonial and decolonial thought across different disciplines, before looking at their impact on the field of international relations (IR). The chapter also explores the similarities and differences between different approaches and other theories in the field of IR. Finally, it contemplates the on-going popularity of postcolonial and decolonial approaches in the present day.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

1. Introduction: What is Security Studies?  

Alan Collins

This chapter provides an introduction to Security Studies, the sub-discipline of International Relations that deals with the study of security. War and the threat to use force are part of the security equation, but the prevalence of threats is far-reaching for Security Studies. They encompass dangers ranging from pandemic and environmental degradation to terrorism and inter-state armed conflict. The latter is actually a sub-field of Security Studies and is known as Strategic Studies. This edition examines differing approaches to the study of security, such as realism, liberalism, social constructivism, and postcolonialism. It also investigates the deepening and broadening of security to include military security, regime security, societal security, environmental security, and economic security. Finally, it discusses a range of traditional and non-traditional issues that have emerged on the security agenda, including weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, energy security, and health.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

9. Postcolonialism  

Mark Laffey and Suthaharan Nadarajah

This chapter introduces postcolonialism as a set of increasingly influential positions and perspectives within the wider discipline of International Relations and sketches its implications for security studies. It begins with postcolonialism’s genealogies, tracing its emergence in a set of transnational debates about the mutually constitutive relations between knowledge and imperialism. The chapter then lays out the standard account of world history as organized around Westphalian sovereignty which informs security studies and shows how postcolonialism puts it in question, forcing the international to be reconceived as the context within which security is defined, practised, and studied. Third, the chapter puts postcolonialism to work and discusses what it might mean to decolonize security studies. In a short conclusion, it returns to the question of the tense relations between security studies and postcolonialism itself.

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 International Relations and the European Union

12. The Shadows of Empire: African Perceptions of Europe and the EU  

Adekeye Adebajo

This chapter considers the shaping of relations between Africa and Europe. It looks at how they continue to be adversely affected, by the historical trauma of five centuries of slavery and colonialism. The shadows of empire continue to cast over these bonds, as exemplified in the European Union’s (EU’s) heavy-handed and mercantilist negotiating approach during the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African states between 2002 and 2016. Tensions could also be seen on issues relating to the poor treatment of African migrants by European governments, and a lack of African access to Covid-19 drugs. Some African leaders—particularly in the francophone world—embraced aspects of European colonial rule, as useful to their post-colonial development, but most leaders and citizens in Africa continue to note the destructive legacy and continued dominance of inherited European institutions and the unfair global structures of trade. Despite European talk of ‘equal partnership’ and its provision of development aid, non-reciprocal trade access (since revoked), and security assistance; the African side still often feels that an unequal, paternalistic relationship has continued with Europe, similar to the exploitative patterns of the past.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

18. Critical Approaches to Global Politics  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter examines seven critical approaches to global politics: Marxism, Critical Theory, constructivism, feminism, postmodernism, postcolonial theory, and green theory. In their book The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels address the implications for global order of the rise of capitalism and the role of the bourgeoisie as controllers of capital. Their ideas have had a major influence on critical approaches to virtually all aspects of both domestic and global politics. The chapter considers some major strands of Marxist-influenced theory of direct relevance to global politics, including dependency theory, world-system theory, Gramscian theory, and Frankfurt School theory. It also discusses gender theory and compares postmodern/poststructural approaches to global politics with Critical Theory and constructivism in International Relations.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

1. Introduction Myth-Making  

This chapter introduces the concept of myth-making and global politics. It begins by explaining how myths about global politics disempower us because they rest on convention, established power relations, and particular interests that should be questioned. One way of overcoming limiting myths about global politics is to adopt a similar critical orientation towards the academic disciplines and theories we use to study global politics. These include the ‘traditional’ and ‘critical’ theories of International Relations, such as Liberalism, Realism, Constructivism, Marxism, Feminism, Postcolonial Theory, and Poststructuralism. The chapter then outlines specific myths and mysteries, before introducing the idea of ‘everyday global politics’. It also explores theoretical thinking, asks why students should be encouraged to theorise from the start of their studies, and why the myths upon which intuitive understandings of politics are based are a good place to start this theorising.

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 Introduction to Politics

18. Critical Approaches to Global Politics  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter examines seven critical approaches to global politics: Marxism, Critical Theory, constructivism, feminism, postmodernism, postcolonial theory, and green theory. In their book The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels address the implications for global order of the rise of capitalism and the role of the bourgeoisie as controllers of capital. Their ideas have had a major influence on critical approaches to virtually all aspects of both domestic and global politics. The chapter considers some major strands of Marxist-influenced theory of direct relevance to global politics, including dependency theory, world-system theory, Gramscian theory, and Frankfurt School theory. It also discusses gender theory and compares postmodern/poststructural approaches to global politics with Critical Theory and constructivism in International Relations.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

16. Edward W. Said  

Rahul Rao

This chapter studies the major intellectual contributions of Edward Said, many of which laid the foundations for what would become the field of postcolonial studies. It begins by exploring Said’s views on how knowledge and power structure relations between Western imperial powers and non-Western states and societies, through critical readings of Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993), respectively. The chapter then looks at Said’s writings and activism as a spokesperson for Palestinian self-determination. It also examines Said’s views on what it means to be a public intellectual. While Said’s ideas have become so influential, the apparent familiarity of his ideas has allowed a forgetting of the nuance and complexity with which they were originally articulated. By offering a close re-reading of Said’s best-known texts, the chapter encourages a more careful appreciation of the ideas that were central to his political thinking.

Book

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

Edited by Alan Collins

Contemporary Security Studies provides an introduction to Security Studies. It features a wide breadth and depth of coverage of the different theoretical approaches to the study of security and the ever-evolving range of issues that dominate the security agenda in the twenty-first century. In addition to covering a large range of topical security issues, from terrorism and inter-state armed conflict to cyber-security, health, and transnational crime, the sixth edition features an examination of popular culture and its implications for security, as well as coverage of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout, readers are encouraged to question their own preconceptions and assumptions, and to use their own judgement to critically evaluate key approaches and ideas. To help them achieve this, each chapter is punctuated with helpful learning features including ‘key ideas’, ‘think points’ and case studies, demonstrating the real-world applications and implications of the theory.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

24. Globalization and the nation state  

Sørensen Georg

This chapter examines the implications of globalization for sovereign statehood. It begins with a discussion of the debate over the consequence of globalization for nation states, followed by an analysis of the modalities of statehood as they have developed over the past several decades. In particular, it explores how advanced capitalist states are transforming from modern into post-modern states. It also considers the emergence of weak post-colonial states out of special circumstances—the globalization of the institution of sovereignty in the context of decolonization. Furthermore, it looks at modernizing states such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, which combine features of the modern, post-modern, and weak post-colonial states. The chapter concludes with an overview of changes in statehood that place the discipline of comparative politics in a new setting.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

24. Globalization and the Nation-State  

Georg Sørensen

This chapter examines the implications of globalization for sovereign statehood. It begins with a discussion of the debate over the consequence of globalization for nation-states, followed by an analysis of the modalities of statehood as they have developed over the past several decades. In particular, it explores how advanced capitalist states are transforming from modern into post-modern states. It also considers the emergence of weak post-colonial states out of special circumstances—the globalization of the institution of sovereignty in the context of decolonization. Furthermore, it looks at modernizing states such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, which combine features of the modern, post-modern, and weak post-colonial states. The chapter concludes with an overview of changes in statehood that place the discipline of comparative politics in a new setting.

Chapter

Cover The Politics of International Law

8. Human rights in the postwar period  

This chapter focuses on human rights, a perfect topic through which to study the interaction between law and politics in international relations. The topic of human rights offers a microcosm of the clashes and contradictions between realism and idealism, legal principles and political expediencies, state and non-state actors, and collective and individual rights, which characterize international order. The chapter defines human rights and outlines their international legal framework. The chapter then traces the postwar evolution of international human rights law (IHRL). It explains how, by the late twentieth century, the concept of human rights had captured the global imagination. It also explores the international political context in which the rise of human rights took place, including decolonization and the explosion in rights-based civil society activism in the 1970s. Finally, the chapter analyses the efficacy of IHRL in a world of sovereign states, before assessing the cultural relativist critique of human rights, which challenges their claim to universality, often from the perspective of postcolonial societies.