Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class

Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class

Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class

Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class

Synopsis

Power, Postcolonialism and International Relations uses postcolonial theory to examine the implications of race, class and gender relations for the structuring of world politics, and addresses further themes central to postcolonial theory.

Excerpt

Since 1945, the idea of postcoloniality, or fostering international existence beyond colonialism, has stimulated the reflections of the vast majority of intellectuals worldwide and practitioners of international relations, particularly those of the former colonial empires. It has also galvanized the plurality of debates at the United Nations and associated institutions and fora. Yet Western scholars, a part of this debate, have remained oblivious to this international shift and also to the so-called postcolonial theorists who examine it. Indeed, although postcolonial interventions have frequently found their ways into the academy and its professional journals, only a few scholars have fully appreciated the modes of inquiry and ontological discourses associated with postcolonial criticisms. As a result, the representations of “international reality” and “international existence” have remained grounded in Western institutional and discursive practices so as to reflect and affirm parochial structures of power, interest, and identity.

Such attachments become problematic when they are accompanied by explicit attempts to preserve the authority of the West as sole legislator of international norms and values, to foster ontological discourses that question the legitimacy of the “non-West” as enactors of international morality, and to cast doubts on non-Western modes of hermeneutics, ethnography, and historiography. Unfortunately, an increasing number of Western theorists have compounded their neglect of the complexity of international existence with an explicit advocacy of non-engagement with postcolonial critique (Todorov 1993; Hopkins 1997). They suggest that the non-adherence of postcolonial critics to disciplinary and institutional norms leads to normative ambiguity.

This concern is tied up with the charges that the methods of postcolonial critics are likely to lead to the breakdown of productive exchanges within the academy because postcolonial criticisms are emotional, subjective, and irrational responses. According to Hopkins and Todorov, such responses undermine the attainment of universal or transcendental values that can be attained only through an understanding of the purpose of empirical inquiry and an empirical social theory of cross-cultural relations and global politics

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