Poststructuralism & International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In

Poststructuralism & International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In

Poststructuralism & International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In

Poststructuralism & International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In

Synopsis

"Offering a sophisticated introduction to the major poststructuralist thinkers, this book shows how Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, and Zizek can help us expose the depoliticization found in conventional international relations theory." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In many areas of social and political theory, the political is being rethought in and through poststructuralist, deconstructivist, feminist, postcolonial, and psychoanalytic thought. In international relations the value of this series of approaches to questions of the political remains widely contested. This book aims both to introduce the interested reader to some of the writings that form the basis for this rethinking and to indicate how it is not only relevant but central to an analysis of politics and the political.

The rethinking of the political that is taking place in contemporary theory (and that has indeed been taking place for some time) involves an unsettling of the view of the “subject” of politics. At one time the political subject was assumed to be the sovereign individual, preexisting politics itself. This concept of the subject has been decentered and the notions of existence and temporality on which it was founded problematized. The unsettling of the subject (of theory as well as of politics) has taken place in parallel with a freeing of the colonized subject, albeit still within a postcolonial world, and a reexamination of boundaries of various kinds constructed to keep subjects in their place.

The challenge to international relations comes not only from a realignment and reexamination of subjectivity that leads to a rearticulation of fundamental political questions but also from a reassessment of “the political” itself. If the unsettled subject can no longer be seen simply as friend or enemy, what is “the political” about? If the boundary between the international and the domestic is insecure in more than the traditional sense, can we still draw the line between politics within and anarchy without? Or is the political moment over once the frontier is in place? As we shall see in Chapter 1, a reassessment of what we might mean by these terms leads a number of writers to make a distinction between “politics” and “the political. ” It also leads to an analysis that acknowledges the importance of questions of language, discourse, and ideology to a consideration of . . .

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