Postcolonialism in an Age of Globalization: Opening International Relations Theory to Identities in Movement

Article excerpt

The point of theory, it seems, is to attempt to stop time, perhaps as if it was a dependent variable, and assemble the disparate elements of understanding into statements, or even a statement--or even a single word--that theorists would hope would capture the movement of the moment. Today, at this moment of global movement, we are assembled to reflect on our currency with and for one another. Many of us have attempted to stake a claim to having achieved perhaps the ultimate act of theorizing the movement of our moment by pronouncing the one word, globalization, that accomplishes the task of theory. (l) The word is effective since it seems to strike a responsive chord in all of us. In fact, the word is more than this: globalization is a name that is both proper and common.

Each of us names globalization as a proper noun that is beyond critique (we all know what globalization is) because it enfolds within it an entire universe of possibility. We also name globalization as common nouns, subject to interpretation--to translation according to our presumably diverse languages of theory. We name globalization as if it is beyond question, and as if it is subject to question. Globalization says more than the name, just as it says, quite simply, the name. (2) The difficulty that ensues from naming globalization is that the conflict between the universality of the proper noun and the particularity of the common nouns that come of our interpretations (our translations) bears a double injunction: we are constrained by the argued-for sovereignty of the name and, presumably, liberated by the essential contestations that each of us brings to the name. (3)

Another recently named phenomenon that has begun to occupy an albeit lower place in the pantheon of theoretical names is postcolonialism. Like globalization, postcolonialism also encompasses a very wide range of theoretical considerations. It is also subject to the double imperative of naming. But the two words/names--globalization and postcolonialism--are made to occupy different places in our theoretical pantheon. One could argue that postcolonialism and globalization suggest alternate categories of identity construction and maintenance. A theorist of globalization might, for example, point to blurred boundaries in which virtual reality and free markets transcend the space of the idea of sovereignty. A theorist of postcolonialism might point to ongoing colonialist practices that blur boundaries in which past histories are in confluence with current postcolonial conditions to transcend the time of the idea of sovereignty.

If one assumes the incommensurability of the two concepts--the two names--on the basis of different categories of analysis, one should also acknowledge the need to assume their commensurability on similar themes; for example, of sovereignty. Both globalization and postcolonialism are "transcendent" of a third name: sovereignty. If we try to make sense of globalization or postcolonialism, we can apparently do so only in terms of the current limits of discourse.

Paradoxically, however, the neologisms of the present (globalization and postcolonialism, for example) are conceivable only in terms of the neologisms of the past. Sovereignty is only one of those ancient neologisms that have come to constitute our "current thinking": power, movement, authority, anarchy, agency, order, norms, and so on--these, too, are our guides. The result can be as limiting as the content that one might assign to those names through definition, or as illuminating as the potentially endless contestations that those names recommend. I shall want to recommend the illumination of contestation over the limitation of definition. Rather than proceed, as theorists all too often do, by straining to simplify or mitigate contestations, I welcome and encourage those contestations and recommend that the radical democratization of the names we give to global life should become the central task of theory. (4)

Naming and Catachresis

If the task of theory is to open itself to the movement of democratic naming, as I argue it to be, rather than to capture the movement of the moment, then before proceeding further I want to clarify what naming entails. Naming can be understood according to two biblical metaphors: the Babelian and the Adamic. Babelian naming derives from the story of the Tower of Babel. As Jacques Derrida explains the story, (5) the Shems, who wanted to make a name for themselves, began work on a tower that would reach into the heavens. God, offended by the Shems' audacity, halted the construction and renamed the tower and the city Babel and the Shem people, Babelians--names that have come to mean (through translation into many languages), "confusion." This naming is in effect a double injunction on the people of Babel to name Babel as a proper noun, which, as it happens, is the name of God the Father (Ba means father, and bel means God), (6) and to translate that name because they have been condemned by God to a multiplicity of languages. Derrida explains that this double injunction--to translate and not to translate the proper, sovereign name-"is at work in every proper name":

On the one hand, don't translate me, that is, respect me as a proper name, respect my law of the proper name which stands over and above all languages. And, on the other hand, translate me, that is, understand me, preserve me within the universal language, follow my law, and so on. This means that the division of the proper name insofar as it is the division of God--in a word, insofar as it divides God himself--in some way provides the paradigm for this work of the proper name. (7)

In other words, the proper name is both untranslatable and it must be translated, but translation can occur only within the rules of translation: anything that does not appear within the proper name, and within the capacity for translation afforded by the multiplicity of languages at the disposal of the people of Babel, is considered to be beyond translation, subject to exclusion. The rules of Babelian naming include the rule of exclusion, which enables translation to occur as it denies the paradoxical necessity of those exclusions to the act of naming. Forgetting the paradox depoliticizes the process as it depoliticizes the people who are affected by exclusion. The name (the "heading") is "split," as Derrida explains. (8) In other words, the proper name is always already unfixed and unstable. It is always already subject to contestation. The connection to post colonialism and globalization as names given by theorists to the movement of the moment should be clear. But the ongoing contestations become an obst acle that can be opposed only through another sort of naming that one finds in the Adamic metaphor--the originary source of naming. Where Babelian naming describes contestation, Adamic naming is a process of refusing the problem of Babelian naming and positing the name as not being subject to question. Both projects depoliticize the subjects of naming.

As with the "split heading" of Babelian naming, Adamic naming (again a biblical metaphor) can be argued as being open to contestation. Adamic naming, however, can also be interpreted, as Zizek prefers, as bearing closure. Butler explains this closure in her critique of Zizek's appropriation of Kripke's notion of the "rigid designator." (9) Not content with what he views as the excess of deconstruction, Zizek argues that the name, which he acknowledges is a site of contestation in what he calls "phantasmic investment," wants to avoid the problem of dissolving identity "into a network of non-substantial, differential relations." (10) To this end, he argues with Kripke, whose idea of the rigid designator enables a fixing of reference. Zizek parts company with Derrida and Butler (and me) when he grafts Kripkean rigid designation onto the Lacanian "real," which stands outside reality as a threat of unintelligibility. The effect of Kripke's rigid designator, however, is to engage in what Derrida calls citation, th e "reiteration of the divine process of naming." (11)

As with Babelian naming, Adamic naming (upon which Kripke bases his notion of the rigid designator) requires an initial nomination. The difference is that the Adamic metaphor describes a process of cross-generational learning. Following the "primal baptism" of Adamic naming, each generation imparts upon the next the fact of the initial nomination. This "chain of communication" fixes not only the name but also each member of a naming community who agrees to the reiterative process and the continuation of the chain of communication. This chain bears an unfortunate side effect that not only contradicts the name as a site of phantasmic investment but also undermines the potential of catachresis. As Butler points out, however, "By virtue of the very reiterability of the name--the necessity that the name be reiterated in order to name, to fix its referent--[the] risk of catachresis is continually reproduced." (12) Herein lies the contradiction of rigid designation and the connection to Babelian naming, as Derrida understands it. Catachresis is the threat of the improper use of a proper name, as when (in Kripke's famous example) one gives the name Napoleon to one's pet aardvark. The threat of this improper naming makes evident the continual risk of catachresis that the name already bears with it. But catachresis is made to disappear under rigid designation. The negation of catachresis is precisely the sort of thing that one encounters in political theory that is satisfied with the neologisms of the past. Fixing the name is necessary, but the necessity of fixing reveals the threat of catachresis-that threat that is always already under way in every proper name. The communicative chain of reiterability would be unnecessary without the threat. Rather than sublimate the paradox of naming, I want to argue for its centrality as the means by which people can invest themselves in naming. Conscious of the paradox, I want to argue, in speaking of the apparently rigid designators globalization and postcolonialism, that they are m ore than simply receptacles of Zizekian phantasmic investment-receptacles of contestation that are guided by rigid designation. Butler's example is useful:

To understand "women" as a permanent site of contest . . . is to presume that there can be no closure on the category and that, for politically significant reasons, there ought never to be. That the category can never be descriptive is the very condition of its political efficacy. In this sense, what is lamented as disunity and factionalization from the perspective of the descriptivist ideal [which, I would add, informs Zizek's naming] is affirmed by the anti-descriptivist perspective as the open and democratizing potential of the category. (13)

I advocate naming that does not simply follow the rules of translation (Babelian double injunction and Adamic citability). Neither encourages the radical democratization of naming that already is under way in the names that theorists give to political life because names are all too often depoliticized as rigid designators that bear only the limited understanding that our discourses seem to permit. Instead, the radical democratization of naming enables IR theorists to open themselves to the movement of catachresis, which is always already available as the resource of thinking in new ways, of thinking through the neologisms of the present by interrogating the neologisms of the past.

Hauntology and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Both globalization and postcolonialism appear in theory as names for diverse human activity: culture, economy, politics, and history are all "categories" by which theorists have approached their global and postcolonial theoretical tasks. In fact, by fusing these names with theoretical categories, globalization and postcolonialism themselves become categories. As a result, they are made simply to be sites of contestation. Regardless of the dispersion of categorical reflection, the point of contestation between the two names seems to center on their opposition. On the one hand, globalization transcends geopolitical space, while postcolonialism adheres to it. In one such argument, postcolonialism is the resistant, and corrective, hauntology for globalization. The problem with this argument is in the dialectical separation of the postcolonial state and globalization, as if there was sufficient distinction between the two to locate postcolonialism as the Derridean-cum-Marxian spectral figure that haunts the living , breathing reality of globalization.

Such an argument is, of course, lost on anyone who does not grasp the insight of hauntology as a paradoxical manifestation of differance. But the argument is also lost within itself for its own essentialism. One might, instead, recognize the specters within both postcolonialism and globalization. For example, if one argued that postcolonial theory contained within it a critique of sovereignty (to return to just one of our ancient neologisms), just as theorists of globalization argue against sovereignty, the dichotomous thinking of dialectical misreadings of Derridean hauntology becomes clear. Instead, postcolonial theory is sufficiently diverse as to posit alternatives to the grand narrative of sovereignty. I do not refer simply to the neocolonial resurgence of hegemonic dominance and national resistance. Postcolonial theory more often than not criticizes "local" strategies of domination that are themselves instances of resistance. Enemies abound in both postcolonialism and globalization.

To be more specific, on the one hand, Bhabhian hybridity or Spivakian negotiations between diasporic and cosmopolitan identities replicate the dichotomous thinking of a theorist who argues that the postcolonial haunts globalization. On the other hand, one can bring from the same field of theory a sense that if all of these theorists are transporting neat, Western poststructural thought into the muddy, non-Western field of postcoloniality (with all its heterogeneity), then one can begin to see the extent of the alterity of that field. And if one presses further, the simple stories of exclusion and inclusion recommended in a simple rendering of either Western or non-Western critical thinking should be replaced with stories in which inclusion and exclusion are coterminous (i.e., have "the same or coincident boundaries"). (15) As the divisions of self and other, inside and outside, and so on are appropriated by the likes of a Bhabha or a Spivak, in order to critique those divisions, rendering the most powerful n on-Western theories of postcolonialism to be arguably complicit in the division and dependent upon their power for the subject of their critique, then the terms of the conflict between West and non-West are themselves blurred.

Stories of inside/outside, self/other, inclusion/exclusion are all too often made to resonate either upon the presumed divisions between the West and the non-West or they are made to resonate by the implicit grounding of the critique of those divisions upon the concepts of inside/outside, self/other, and inclusion/exclusion. One can easily see (if one looks closely) that these terms are not divisible--that they are indeed coterminous. In a postcolonial globalizing site (if one wanted to refer to it as such) such as Indonesia, for example, there are "states within states" (Aceh and Irian Jaya, for example), "cultures within cultures" (Solo in Java and Batak in Minangkabau, for example), and "languages within languages" (Protek in Jakartanese in Indonesian). To the Indonesian example here one could add others (Hawai'ian sovereignty, Central African ethnic genocide, and Native American and Australasian identity conflicts).

The postcolonial, like globalization, is part of a movement whose underlying character is nothing less than a war to name. The conflicts that one can recognize in either name as being economic, political, cultural, or linguistic are, quite simply, wars to name the context of conflict. But the war to name (to name others and to name oneself) is not limited to the world of postcolonialism; it is prosecuted in the globalization that is also said to define our current world--the movement of our moment. Globalization attracts so much current theoretical attention because it is a simple (perhaps the simplest) way of defining the messy and all-too-often violent conflict of human interaction.

The oversimplification by a global economist, well-versed in the free-market debate, who calls for the elimination of diversity for the sake of effective communication (as in the use of English as the standard of communication in cyberspace), proposing dialectics of reason versus passion, unity versus diversity, and cultural and linguistic homogeneity versus cultural and linguistic "chaos." Those aspects of human life that do not fit within the grand design of a reasoned, unified, and homogenous rendering of globalization must be submitted in this global economic ordering to accommodation within it, or, failing that, to being excluded from consideration.

Such arguments are the bread and butter of well-heeled business professors, e-commerce consultants, university administrators, city council members, and political candidates who fall into line in the framework of the "new economy." The characteristic feature of the new economy is an entrepreneurial spirit, which, one might say, is the guiding hand of all globalizing success stories. (16) All grand narratives, however, such as this version of globalization, are haunted by their own exclusions. One could return to a dialectic of resistance in which the same local sites of resistance that haunt postcolonial states also haunt globalization. One could easily locate pockets of resistance to globalizing forces of homogeneity: protestors against the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, the EU, APEC, and so on, as well as protesters against the corporatization of higher education or the transformation of the market to cyberspace.

But, again, one need not look to Western protesters or to local pockets of resistance in non-Western sites to find a specter within globalization. One need look only to globalization's "entrepreneurial spirit" itself to find a specter that haunts globalization. The instability of the free market creates an unending stream of winners and losers (far more losers than winners). As virtual monopolization might eventually become the apparent norm of economic success (just as with corporate monopolization among such giants as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco), countless "Mom & Pops" metaphorically (and quite literally) articulate the hauntology of globalization. Globalization does notjust put centuries-old cultures out of business, it puts itself out of business. The entrepreneurial spirit haunts itself. The issue is not simply the posited dichotomy between globalization and postcolonialism; it is the divisions within globalization and postcolonialism.

This point should not be seen in neo-Marxist dialectical terms. I am not positing an argument as simple as that. What I am saying is that any logic that would claim to contain everything before it is, in fact, dispersed by everything before it. Such a conclusion is not, by itself, particularly insightful. History bears considerable evidence of what my argument so far is describing. One might say, for example, that liberalism both generated and undermined British hegemony, or that democratic centralism both created and destroyed Soviet socialism. To expand on the same logic, I would say that postcolonial and globalization thinking bear the spirits of their own exclusion. If, for example, one conceived of the nation as the postcolonial telos--that is, that social movement depended upon political power for its raison detre--one could also point to exaggerations of that logic that have occurred in such places as Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, or Saudi Arabia, for example, each with its own national uncertainty and con tradiction. And if, for example, one conceived of the value of the free market as the telos of globalization, one could also point to a question of value in the widening gap between rich and poor and between the growing legions of corporatized university faculty/administrators and city council members and their slowly fading counterparts, retreating noncorporatized university faculty/administrators and city council members.

What one posits with certainty as either within the purview of postcolonialism or globalization is subject to the uncertainty of those names. What is certain in all this, despite particular arguments, is that the names that one gives to human interaction today as either postcolonial or global will be--as imperialism, the state, and religion were in the past--sites of contestation, confrontation, and violence. If our neologisms of today take the violent path of the neologisms of the past, we are in for considerable trouble.

The questions before us, then, are of considerable importance. But the names we posit in response to our questions, as reflective of our understandings of the moment of our movement, should not turn on their utility as rigid designators, but rather on their value as ongoing sites of phantasmic investment, to say the least, and of catachresis, to say the most. Unless we open our theories to the possibilities that postcolonialism and globalization invite, we will be bound to repeat the violence of the past. (17) If today's neologisms depend upon the neologisms of the past, then what we say about postcolonialism and globalization today will bear heavily upon what can be said about tomorrow's neologisms.

The Catachreses of Postcolonial Thinking

Let me return to naming to see, if only in schematic terms, how we might conduct our theoretical contestations over the names post-colonialism and globalization. Naming is a way to come to terms with the strange, the foreign, and all too often the "enemy." If, for example, one subsumes the whole of human activity in the name globalization, then one risks doing violence to the constituent elements of that name, including its spectral sources of hauntology. If, on the other hand, one names in the irony that naming inevitably produces, one is able to entertain the diversity of human alterity upon which naming depends.

The duty of disciplinary theorists is to define their discipline in a discourse that is precise and clear, but only within the limits of that discourse. A disciplinary discourse is decidedly antidemocratic. It insists upon the novelty of its limits. Political scientists are as susceptible to the logic of discipline as any other adherents to discipline. If a scholar or practitioner of economics or business performs iterations of a single concept--say, the law of supply and demand--then the tradition of citability within that discipline becomes ensconced in the requirements of disciplinary behavior. If, to paraphrase Said, an orientalist cites sufficiently the latent orientalism of centuries of authority, orientalism becomes manifest in a worldly discourse of exclusion. Violence is evident in any case, whether economic, political, or cultural.

But the logic of naming according to the rules of disciplinary discourse--to the rules of naming, to the mandate of citability--need not be understood only in these terms. Opportunities for catachresis are available within the discourses themselves, in the essential contestations of the terms of those discourses--in the names that we assign to our uncertainty. Theorists of postcolonialism and globalization depend upon the vicissitudes of their own making. Having recognized the limitations of thinking only in terms of national-identity formations or of simple economic principles or of cultural and linguistic categories, theorists of postcolonialism and globalization have already expanded their vocabularies into previously uncharted territories. At the most basic level, both have engaged the possibility that sovereignty (whether conceived as spatial or temporal) is porous, and that postcolonial political processes and global economic processes can, in fact, transcend the state. Such epiphanies of thought have required catachresis. By a similar process, I suggest that all concepts that guide our disciplines become open to the essential contestations upon which they are based.

Reflect for a moment upon the so-called great debates of the IR discipline. Each generation of theorists, it seems, had its own movers and shakers, many of whom later became its mainstream, the object of later dissent. Old scholars have posited theories and clung to them just as others have come forward to explain the limitations of those theories. This sort of cyclical activity is not accidental; nor is it simply a function of professionals who must have something to say in order to preserve themselves and their discipline. The process is due to the instability in what they propose. Definitions of "political reality" are responses to the limitations of previous definitions. Those responses draw upon the events to which their ideas purportedly speak, and they draw upon the concepts handed to them by their mentors. In both, theory is bound by, and productive of, contingency and uncertainty. One contestation is followed by another. The communicative chain of reiterability is preserved. Life goes on.

But life does not go on as easily or as justly as it might. We seem to have two options. We might posit definitions; that is, we might name global uncertainty in sophisticated and condensed formulations that seem, increasingly, to mimic ad campaigns (compare "bringing the state back in" or "the social construction of reality" with "Always Coca Cola" or "just Do It"), and that seem to say, once and for all, that states are, or that reality is constructed, both of which are variations on the same all-inclusive naming of global processes that globalization and postcolonialism purportedly accomplish. In this case, naming drowns Out contestation, subsumes it, appropriates it, eliminates it, or forgets it. Alternatively, we might name by drawing attention to contestation, rather than trying to eliminate or forget it. In short, naming should make possible the catachresis that I argue to be the process by which the movement of the moment can continue, and flourish.

To demonstrate how one might envision catachresis, I return briefly to Bhabha, (18) who explains: "As with Guha, my reading will be catachrestic: reading between the lines, taking neither him [Bakhtin] at his word nor me fully at mine." (19) Bhabhian catachresis is, perhaps, known to many. The name Bhabha itself can often evoke as much mystification as it does illumination. Bhabha is often criticized for his impenetrable language. Despite the misgivings one might have in considering a postcolonial critic such as Bhabha, his critique is one instance of the sort of critique of Western assumptions that can become a resource for introducing innovative contestations into current IR theory. Currently, IR theorists seem to be happy to multiply levels of analysis (interdependence/complexity proponents) or to ruminate upon the worn agency/structure debate (structurationists). (20) Both of these turn on themes of the Western individual acting within Western structures. Bhabhian (postcolonial) catachreses turn on a les s exclusionary theme. In effect, postcolonial thinkers pose fundamental and very troubling questions to IR theorists, who generally work with limited conceptual languages.

But, one might point out, postcolonial critics continually critique one another for their appropriation of what is labeled as Western postmodern thinking. When Spivak draws upon Derrida for deconstruction, or when Said draws upon Foucault for archaeologies of knowledge, or when Bhabha draws upon Lacan for an exegesis of the other, they are often accused of duplicity. How, one might ask, can they get away with appropriation of Western ideas in their non-Western cause? Such a question is, of course, ironic because it is only really ever asked by postcolonial theorists themselves. In fact, just this question has constituted a considerable part of their work. Just as the ontology of the (Western) self either implicitly (and silently) runs through Western IR theory or comes to the surface in work that examines the issue of agency, for example, postcolonial theorists worry about the ontology of the non-Western self, with the added twist of the effect of continued Western-imposed identity through neocolonialist pra ctices. Constructivists and scholars of interdependence seem content to let the postcolonialists argue among themselves. The "real" work of global theory need not concern itself with the impenetrable (catachrestic) discourse of postcolonial (and postmodern) thinking. As with all marginal thought, such thinking can, for mainstream theorists, remain marginalized in the "third spaces" in which postcolonial critics seem to want to conduct their debates.

My point in bringing up (even briefly) the internal debates among postcolonial theorists is that conventional mainstream International Relations theoretical approaches to thinking about postcolonialism, to the extent that it is thought about at all, most often involves lumping it together as radical thought whose effective function is to instantiate the mainstream and maintain the Third World at theoretical arm's length--retrievable as a category of conflict, the site of "coups and earthquakes," a site to be avoided. The strange and internecine warfare among postcolonial theorists conveniently replicates the assumed reality of Third World chaos, which mainstream theorists often ascribe to the dark continents and the backwaters of the world (which is where, they might mistakenly think, "those" scholars are headquartered). In their adherence to tried-and-true concepts, discriminating mainstream theorists give little quarter to the postcolonial. It is as if the purpose of mainstream theory is to unify Europe and North America at the expense of the rest of the world, who must either get on board or fend for themselves.

But much is lost in such exclusions/appropriations. In particular, IR theory loses the opportunity for catachresis, which could be that opportunity for revising the terms of the contestation of the names that are given to global practice--the movement of the moment. As mainstream theorists pursue the complications of their own ontological limits by piling on levels and categories of interdependence and complexity, they are both acknowledging the limitations of their theories and imposing new orders of organization upon thinking about the global. One can easily be seduced into the logic of complexity or the logic of agency/structure bracketing, for example, but the danger, of course, is in the possibility/likelihood that accommodation becomes appropriation. At a loss for apologies for having got the end of the Cold War wrong, mainstream theorists might turn their attention away from the neat divisions between superpowers to the, perhaps equally neat, divisions between Huntingtonian civilizations. In fact, post colonial thinkers become, in all of this, epistemological enemies, the spokespersons of an alien opposition to "this" civilization--this civilization being the civilization ultimately responsible for having conceived the notion of globalization.

I submit that the distinction between the postcolonial and the postmodern is a consequence of their development as separate fields of inquiry. To be sure, if one understands them as separate fields, each informs the other: the marginalized spaces of post-structuralist thinking and the third space of postcolonial thinking can be thought of as similar "spaces." But the openings that one might notice, such as this one, remain just that: openings, as if the two fields were from the beginning closed. The need for openings returns one to the distinctions that are made to exist between them as two separate fields of thought, requiring translation of contestable concepts because they proceed under two headings--two names. But, again, both headings are, just as mainstream International Relations is, already split.

If the divisions that names produce between these two fields, which might otherwise be considered to be allies in alterity, are distinct, then the chasm that separates postcolonialism and mainstream IR theory must be vast. As I near the end of my article, I want to suggest that all these separate fields, including the field of globalization theory, should be guided by the same resource, the same opportunity: the catachresis of naming.

Thinking That Defies Rather Than Defines the Moment

In the war to name, we engage in "service to the discipline" as if soldiers on the march. Even as we test the boundaries of thought by working in the interstices of epistemology, our necessary presence in the service to our discipline (conference work, peer review, departmental commitment, and publication in recognized-in-the-discipline journals) attests to our tacit acceptance of our titles--our names. If we are industrious in our disciplinary commission, we publish or perish, but the needs of the broader public we serve ought to outweigh the needs of our disciplinary comrades in arms in our particular and narrow halls of academe. Those who invest themselves in the practice of globalization, who think of what they do as an investment in the subjects of their economic enterprise, might take greater stock in the wider portfolio of the world's people, rather than simply in themselves--or "their own kind." The result of theoretical work or economic practice within the narrow confines of disciplinary possibility has resulted in the adherence to limited consideration of one's own identity. We name ourselves theorists of global life (of globalization, postcolonialism, International Relations), but our work reinforces the importance of the "local" of the academy or of the enterprise. Such self-imposed limitations are not exclusive to those in the mainstream but also apply to anyone concerned with theory that proceeds upon the premise of the importance, if not the centrality, of the names we give to our object of thought. (21) But each of us is haunted by the spirit of our own enterprise. We continually work to define our identities. Like the "new economists" whose entrepreneurial spirit is so highly prized in business, universities, and government, IR theorists must also become entrepreneurs. And like the new economists, the enterprise of the theorist is haunted by spirits who all too often bear the exclusion that discipline demands.

I submit that, until this moment, theory that has been exclusive within the rules of naming refuses the possibility of catachresis that might otherwise enable the ongoing invention of names that do not simply rely on the neologisms of the past. Whether one is bound by Babelian translation of the proper and common nouns of naming or by the tradition of chains of communication forged in the reiteration of names that, despite the contestations of phantasmic investment, return to rigid designation, both processes of naming enable one to continue to refuse the possibility of catachresis that might otherwise enable the invention of names that do not simply rely on the neologisms of the past. Catachresis--thinking between the lines, not taking one another at their word (their word being the terms of discourse, beginning with the names we give to global life)--is the common source of all thought. If we theorists acknowledge the possibilities of thinking catachrestically, of "thinking otherwise," we will be able not o nly to recognize the movement of the identities of people whose lives are affected by the often violent effects of the forces of globalization and postcolonialism, but also our own identities in that same movement. In our thinking of the movement of the moment, we can ally ourselves with those others of the name rather than distance ourselves from them in theories that rely for their utility on simplicity and effectiveness--as mainstream theorists ironically put it, upon their sophistication--all too often at the exclusion of those others of the name. In short, we can identify ourselves with them in a world whose movement defies, rather than defines, the moment.


My thanks to Richard Ashley and Roxanne Doty for our conversations and to Kelly Nelson and Chris Stage for their careful reading of an early draft. This article was presented as a paper at the Southern Political Science Association Conference, November 8-11, 2000; my particular thanks go to fellow panelist Francois Debrix and discussant Scott Nelson.

(1.) There are literally hundreds of works in both the academic and popular literature on globalization. It would be an exercise in futility to attempt to list here even a few representative examples. To the extent that this article even begins to draw attention to some of them points to the virtually unavoidable necessity of citation. I acknowledge my debt not simply to individual works and authors, but more generally to the proliferating discourse on globalization.

(2.) To paraphrase Jacques Derrida, On the Name, trans. Thomas Dutoit (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 1995).

(3.) Steven Lukes, among others, calls power an "essentially contested" concept; see Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1974). Globalization (or postcolonialism) is no less contested.

(4.) Simon During argues that, in the specific instances of Maori and Australian Aboriginal experiences, the language of postcolonial theory is, quite simply, inappropriate. Postcolonial theory all too often lumps diversity of experiences into a single postcolonial discourse; see Simon During, "Postcolonialism and Globalization," Meanjin 51, no. 2 (1992): 339-353. During seems to suggest that Aboriginal wisdom is at least as legitimate as European or North American wisdom. I would add that, given the ancient neologisms of Western theory that are the discursive resources of global and postcolonial thought, theorists would do well to turn to the ancient neologisms of diverse Aboriginal thought (for example) as they appear in the discursive practice of the lived experience and cultural expressions of the people for whom postcolonial theorists purport to speak.

(5.) See Jacques Derrida, The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation, ed. Christie V. McDonald, trans. Peggy Kamuf (New York: Schocken, 1985).

(6.) See Edwin Gentzler, Contemporary Translation Theories (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 163-164.

(7.) Derrida, note 5, pp. 100-102.

(8.) See Jacques Derrida, The Other Heading: Reflections on Today's Europe, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael B. Naas (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1992).

(9.) See Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (New York: Routledge, 1993). See also Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso, 1989). And see Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1980).

(10.) Zizek, note 9, p. 72.

(11.) Butler, note 9, p. 212.

(12.) Ibid., p. 213.

(13.) Ibid., p. 221.

(14.) See Pheng Cheah, "Spectral Nationality: The Living On [sur-vie] of the Postcolonial Nation in Neocolonial Globalization," boundary 2 26/3 (1999): 225-252. See also Jacques Derrida, "Spectres of Marx," New Left Review 205 (1994): 31-58. And see Richard Ashley, "Sovereignty, Hauntology, and the Mirror of the World Political: Some Thoughts Too Long Re-Tained," paper prepared for the Millennium Reflection Panel on Alternative and Critical Perspectives, International Studies Association Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, March 14-18, 2000. Ashley's work (which, like Cheah's, draws upon Derrida's reading of Marx) is particularly useful for its critique of the discipline of International Relations. Gordon Laxer clarifies some of the complexities in the related global/national division. See his "The Movement that Dare Not Speak its Name: The Return of Left Nationalism/Internationalism," Alternatives 26, No. 1:1-32.

(15.) Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.

(16.) On the cover of the Chronicle of Higher Education 47, no. 8 (2000), four "professors of the new economy" appear as academic champions of the "entrepreneurial era." Most of these professors also work as business consultants, reaping economic rewards from their economic insight. Steven Kaplan, of the University of Chicago, says (in typical e-commerce-speak, p. A13): "I'm not really interested in doing my own start-up. I'm a tenured professor. How less entrepreneurial can you get?" Nor is the idea of the entrepreneurial spirit lost on the advertising department of the Chronicle: fifteen of the twenty pages of advertising in this issue (75 percent) reflect technological changes/"advancements" in education, ranging from "e-learning platforms" to "academic retailing."

(17.) See Arjun Appadurai, "Dead Certainty: Ethnic Violence in the Era of Globalization," Popular Culture 10 (1998): 225-247.

(18.) Homi Bhabha, "The Postcolonial and the Postmodern," in The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994).

(19.) Ibid., p. 188.

(20.) At various points in this article, I have referred to the currency of IR theory. I have done this consciously as reflective of what I have also been calling the movement of the moment. My idea is something like the idea (mistakenly) attributed to Heraclitus that one does not step in the same river twice. That is, any IR theory that is current cannot be the same text once it is posited. It is always already in motion. Consistent with the title of this article, theory, like the people it serves, whose identities change from moment to moment, are always in motion. Of course, how theories (or identities) move depends greatly upon the politics of their expression-a point to which I shall return later. Unlike the simple (and useless) relativist observation of shifting streams, however, my concern is with the politics of movement.

(21.) One could think of the opportunity to open IR theory to identities in movement in terms of an analogy: the disciplinary movement toward interdisciplinarity. Robertson posits the dilemma of disciplinarity:

The debate about globality is leading. . . to a revamping of the matrix of disciplines and perhaps, in the long run, an end to disciplinarity as we know it.... Quite a number of people with unavoidable disciplinary badges face a dilemma as to whether to leave their disciplinary identification behind them and become involved exclusively in what Bergesen...has termed "globology" . . . or, on the other hand, put much of their intellectual effort into spelling out the ways in which full concern with the global circumstance entails a fundamental challenge to the presuppositions of the discipline in which they are "officially" involved.

See Robertson's critique of Friedman's Cultural Identity and Global Process in Roland Robertson, "Globality, Globalization, and Transdiciplinarity," Theory, Culture, and Society 13, no. 4 (1996): 127-132 (at 128); see also Albert Bergesen, "From Utilitarianism to Globology," in Albert Bergesen, ed., Studies of the Modern World-System (New York: Academic, 1980). Here again, however, one faces not simply dilemmas over disciplinary allegiance but also the seductions of naming, in this case, what is disciplinary and what is interdisciplinary.

Brian McCormack (*)

(*.) Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287-3801. E-mail: