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

By Geeta Chowdhry; Sheila Nair | Go to book overview

9

A STORY TO BE TOLD

IR, postcolonialism, and the discourse of Tibetan (trans)national identity

Dibyesh Anand

The question of Tibet has been neglected in the study of international relations (IR). Although Western infatuation with Tibet can be witnessed in the outpouring of support from prominent Hollywood stars and recent films like Seven Years in Tibet, the Tibet question has remained marginal in IR. I therefore seek to theorize the construction and expression of Tibetan (trans)nationalism, one crucial element of the Tibet question, within a wider argument for a postcolonial approach to IR. While arguing that the study of IR needs to have a dialogue with postcolonial theory to understand the complexity of the Tibet question in general, and the discourse of Tibetan diasporic (trans)nationalism in particular, this chapter also highlights the limits of current postcolonial theorizing. A redefinition of IR, which moves it beyond its conventional concerns, allows us to take on board the question of Tibet since “Tibetanness” is a typical postcolonial narrative of identity politics that combines processes of migration with the human desire for fixity.

Reconceptualizing IR away from its moorings in realist and liberal paradigms involves questioning its ontological, epistemological, and methodological concerns. To combat conspicuous elements of geographical parochialism within IR is important. While various strands of the so-called third debate have critiqued the conventional theories and widened the self-definition of IR, it still remains mainly Western in orientation. Postcolonial international theories that draw upon the literature of critical international theories and postcolonialism are useful for addressing this Eurocentrism in IR. The task is not only to look at issues affecting people in the non-Western world, but also to examine old themes of state, power, war, and peace from new and different perspectives. For example, conventional IR pays attention to Tibet mostly in terms of its role in Sino-Western relations or Sino-Indian border disputes, denying subjectivity to the Tibetans. This resonates with the early twentieth-century British preoccupation with Tibet's role in the “Great Game” - the imperialist rivalry between the

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Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Postcolonial Criticism 33
  • 3 - Situating Race in International Relations 56
  • 4 - Beyond Hegemonic State(Ment)S of Nature 82
  • 5 - Cultural Chauvinism and the Liberal International Order 115
  • 6 - “sexing” Globalization in International Relations: 142
  • 7 - In One Innings 170
  • 8 - The “new Cold War” 184
  • 9 - A Story to Be Told 209
  • 10 - Postcolonial Interrogations of Child Labor 225
  • 11 - Human Rights and Postcoloniality 254
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 312
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