Feminist International Relations: An Unfinished Journey

Feminist International Relations: An Unfinished Journey

Feminist International Relations: An Unfinished Journey

Feminist International Relations: An Unfinished Journey

Synopsis

Christine Sylvester examines the history of feminists' efforts to include gender relations in the study of international relations. Tracing the author's own "journey" through the subject, as well as the work of the other leading feminist scholars, the book examines theories, methods, people and locations which have been neglected by conventional scholarship. It will be of interest to scholars and students of International Relations, Women's and Gender Studies, and Postcolonial Studies.

Excerpt

For the academic field of International Relations (IR), the decade of the 1980s effectively opened with Hedley Bull's The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (1977) and /or with Kenneth Waltz's neorealist Theory of International Politics (1979) – depending on one's geographical and philosophical site in the field. The decade closed on a note that opened all of IR to radical departures from the general tenor (and tenure) of the Bull and Waltz tomes: it closed with Cynthia Enloe's Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Relations (1989). Elements of the new colors and tones washing into the field had been foreshadowed two years earlier in Jean Bethke Elshtain's Women and War (1987). The feminists were not the only challengers about (e.g., Ashley and Walker, 1990a; Der Derian and Shapiro, 1989), but they would turn into one of the most sustaining groups at IR's timbered doors.

Bull had presented the realist case for basing IR on the notion of an international society of sovereign states through which order is maintained and justice struggled over in world politics (see also Bull and Watson, 1986). Waltz had re-sited classical realist theory beyond the realm of states and society; he wrote about the systemic ordering principle of anarchy in international relations and its necessary spawns – rationality and self-help. In contrast to these key mainstream works of the decade, Enloe asked us everywhere to give up thinking that international relations consisted of peopleless states, abstract societies, static ordering principles, or even theories about them, and begin looking for the many people, places, and activities of everyday international politics. Locate those who make the world go round, she said, and cite them.

The decade's triad of society, system, and then (at the last moment) people turned on their heads the order of Waltz's earlier . . .

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