This paper engages with non-Western, specifically African, scholarship and insight with the goal of highlighting the importance of African contributions to IR theorising. We highlight the Western dominance in IR theorising and examine the inadequacy of the major analytical constructs provided by established IR theory in capturing and explaining shifting reality in Africa. We argue that African insights, experience and ideas present a challenge to dominant IR constructs and knowledge within the international system, and that these insights, when taken seriously, would enrich our understanding of IR. We show this by problematising some central (often taken-for-granted) IR concepts such as the state, liberalism and individualism and underscore the need to reconstruct more encompassing ‘stories’ and images to innovate, revise and potentially replace some of the conventional ‘stories’ that have been told in IR.
‘Africa’s wishlist for the Biden administration: Expectations vs reality’.
Newly elected US President Joe Biden confronts enormous challenges in Africa with regard to reversing four years of the Donald Trump administration that was largely characterised by disdain, disinterest and derision toward the continent. The change of the guard in the White House come January 2021 is expected to herald a shift in tone and style toward the continent, which has always yearned for a prime spot on a crowded US foreign policy agenda. As I argued previously, there are high expectations of his presidency because most Africans regard democratic administrations to be more closely aligned to Africa’s concerns and interests. This essay analyses growing perceptions in Africa about the Biden administration and the possibilities for it meeting some of the continent’s objectives.
The Genealogy of Culturalist International Relations in Japan and Its Implications for Post-Western Discourse
This paper aims to introduce a neglected methodology from Japanese international relations (IR) – the culturalist methodology – to Anglophone specialists in IR. This methodology is neglected not only by an Anglophone audience but also by Japanese IR scholars. I argue here that despite this negligence, the culturalist methodology has great potential to contribute to contemporary post-Western international relations theory (IRT) literature by posing radical questions about the ontology of IR, as it questions not only the ontology of Western IR, but also the IR discourses developed in the rest of the world. Consequently, in understanding and imagining the contemporary world, I clarify the importance of perceptions based on what, in Japan, are commonly called ‘international cultural relations’ (kokusai bunka) and ‘regional history’ (chiikishi). I also indicate how our perceptions of the world are limited by the Westphalian principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention among ‘equal’ nations on the basis of state borders. While historical understanding is widely recognised as an important approach to contemporary IR, its scope is limited by its universalised principles.
National Security, the political space, and citizenship: the case of Morocco and the Western Sahara
In this article, the issue of the Western Sahara is addressed by linking it to that of democratisation; to establish this link the argument is threefold. I first refer to the construction of Morocco’s national political space by creating a national identity and considering those of Algeria and the Sahrawi. The issue of the Moroccan regime and its strategies for survival by taking the lead in the Western Sahara issue is examined. Finally both the relevance and the influence of the future of the Western Sahara in the evolution of the current Moroccan political transition is considered.
Interregionalism and police cooperation against cross-border crime in East Africa: Challenges and prospects
This article analyses the role of the European Union (EU) in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) in responding to challenges of policing against cross-border crime along the Tanzanian–Kenyan border. It assumes and argues that the EU’s capability as well as presence in regard to peace and security have a significant impact on addressing those challenges. The article intends to refer to the concept of interregionalism in order to describe and explain the nature of the EU–EAC relationship. The literature review and field data indicate several challenges faced by police forces in law enforcement related to the porous border between Tanzania and Kenya. The article highlights how these challenges have been hindering crime- combating efforts across the borders. The conclusion reached is that cross-border crime control calls for improved cooperation between concerned states as well as with external actors such as the EU.
What wars and ‘war bodies’ know about international relations
What happens when the ‘international’ as a distinct social space is approached from the perspective of war rather than war from the perspective of the ‘international’? Tarak Barkawi’s question (Millennium, 39:3, 2011, 701–706) is best answered by attempts to understand war not as part of inter/intra-state relations but as a socio cultural, trans-historical institution that impacts on the ‘everyday’ lives of men, women and children. In this article I argue that war is not a disruption of the ‘everyday’, an abstraction that has a definite beginning and end, something we enter into and exit. Instead, it can be captured in daily and mundane lived experiences of people and in powerful emotions that constitute ‘self’, community and the ‘other.’ Drawing upon my research on wars in South Asia, I particularly reflect on how war shapes the banal and the fervent and how cultural and political narratives of ‘war bodies’ perform the ‘international’ in a variety of ways. Most significantly I want to draw attention to how international relations as a scholarly discipline is so deeply engaged with war and yet seems to have an estranged relationship with it.
Materializing the ‘non-Western’: two stories of Japanese philosophers on culture and politics in the inter-war period
This paper investigates the risk presumably involved in the narratives of non- Western international relations theory (IRT) by focusing on a similar historical case in Japan. It reveals the risk of uncritically accepted geographical division, and particularly focuses on the discourses of the Kyoto School’s theory of world history as an example of non-Western narratives in the past, which was to ‘overcome’ the Western civilization similar to the contemporary non-Western IRT. However, they are also infamous for providing justification for the wartime regime in Japan for their aggression in the Asian continent. What is the connection between their philosophy and support for the imperialist regime? If there is a connection between them, is there any possibility of the resurrection of the same results in the case of non-Western IRT? To answer these questions, the article introduces the philosophy of Tosaka Jun who was critical of the School but, unlike Kyoto School philosophers, stubbornly fought against the mainstream politics of the time.
Decolonising International Relations and Its Theory: A Critical Conceptual Meditation
One of the main implications of the push for transition from the monoculture of Eurocentric scientific knowledge towards the ecology of knowledge is to force us to pose the question: what does a decolonial turn in International Relations (IR) entail? This article grapples with this question in light of growing demands for a decolonial turn in knowledge and power. The aim is to meditate on this question with a view to open up new avenues for a structured conversation on decolonising IR and its theory. This imperative to decolonise is linked to the question of epistemic justice with implications for the epistemological structure underpinning IR, methodological frameworks for the study of IR, theoretical outlines and the teaching of the discipline. Epistemic justice is a necessity alongside historical justice for those on the margins of a world system constructed with the help of imperialism, systematic enslavement and colonialism. This article discusses the question of the decolonial turn in IR in the hope of stimulating debates on the views of the margins regarding the present state and the future of this area of knowledge, and thus move us closer to an ecology of knowledge and power.
Climate Change and Conflict in the Western Sahel
The states of the western Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and northern Nigeria) are politically quite fragile. Recent severe changes in climate are accelerating conflict and violence in an already economically desperate region, causing increased skirmishes between pastoralists and farmers, while depleting water resources and encouraging many to migrate either within the region or to North Africa. This article provides a commentary on the increasing levels of violent conflicts in the Western Sahel. Larémont explains the role of climate change, jihadist groups and the failing role of the state. It further critically analyses the interference of Western countries in this region.
A Relational Theory of World Politics
Culture matters in social theory construction because the metaphysical component of the theoretical hard core is primarily shaped by the background knowledge of a cultural community. Individual rationality, a key concept abstracted from Western culture, constitutes the nucleus for much of mainstream Western International Relations Theory. This article proposes a relational theory of world politics with relationality as the metaphysical component of its theoretical hard core. It conceives the International Relations (IR) world as one composed of ongoing relations, assumes international actors as actors-in-relations, and takes processes defined in terms of relations in motion as ontologically significant. It puts forward the logic of relationality, arguing that actors base their actions on relations in the first place. It uses the Chinese zhongyong dialectics as its epistemological schema for understanding relationships in an increasingly complex world. This theoretical framework may enable us to see the IR world from a different perspective, reconceptualize key elements such as power and governance, and make a broader comparison of international systems for the enrichment of the Global IR project.