Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory

Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory

Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory

Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory

Excerpt

It is incumbent upon us all, no matter what our starting point may be, to explain what our perspectives can bring to the next stage in international relations theory. (Linklater 1992, 98)

“What makes the world hang together in the international sense?” asks John Ruggie. He goes on to credit this question with guiding him on his influential and innovative journey to better international relations (IR) theory (1998, 1). To understand why this deceptively simple question could perform such a formidable role, one needs to situate it in the context of what is still the accepted mode of asking questions in International Relations. Such an exercise reveals that IR's dominant discourses have long precluded a sense that something may be seriously problematic, or genuinely puzzling, in the way in which our international world hangs together. On the contrary, converging on an assumptive framework that allows, and perhaps even requires, an a priori stipulation of preformed identities and interests, neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism have practiced their theoretical trade in a profoundly durable “world” (Ruggie 1998, 4—16; Alker 1996, xi). Resting on very different premises, Ruggie's question allowed him to effectively alert IR's mainstream positions to the fact that they may be lacking both a logic and a vocabulary for . . .

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