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.
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.
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.
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.
There have been debates on the meaning and appropriateness of the term Global South. To many, no unifying term can apply to regions and countries whose differences extent to the colonial past, cultural traditions, economic trajectories, and administrative or organizational structures. The critics are mistaken. This essay postulates that the term Global South is a symbolic designation with political implications. It is meant to capture a cohesion that emerged when former colonial entities engaged in political projects of decolonization and moved toward the realization of a postcolonial international order. As it stands today, the Global South has its origins in twentieth-century anti-colonialism, the 1955 Bandung Conference, the 1961 NonAligned Movement, and Cuba’s Tricontinentalism, among others.
Although the term Global South gained currency at the end of the Cold War, when the term Third World seemed to fall into disfavor, the change does not signify a renunciation of the ‘Third World.’ It merely signals an adjustment in ideological and political positioning to reflect the new forms of contentions around the legacies of colonialism. Thus, the Global South captures the spirit of Third World engagements in that it continues to invite re-examinations of the intellectual, political, and moral foundations of the international system. The Global South is therefore a multifaceted movement that underscores the need for a postcolonial international community of interest that advances the objectives of equality, freedom, and mutuality in the form of a new ethos of power and subjectivity through
foreign policy, international solidarity, and responsibility to self and others in an international order free of the institutional legacies of colonialism. Finally, as a movement, the Global South has no central structure, no central command, and no appointed spokesperson. It has had multiple custodians, all of them self-selected, in reaction to the deepening and multifaceted violence experienced at the moment by its members.
This paper explores the assumptions of civilizational identities purely based on cultural, religious or geographical distinctions and their limitations. It reviews the ‘civilizations’ discourse in IR and discusses the concept of ‘civilization states’ in the context of China and India. It analyzes the key components of civilizational overlaps and exchanges between these two countries and the invocation of their ‘civilization-state’ identity in their contemporary bilateral relations. Rejecting Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ hypothesis in understanding ‘civilization-states’ like China and India, I conclude that it is critical to understand how states perceive their civilizational heritage, which both facilitates and impedes bilateral exchanges and the conduct of international relations.
This paper critically examines an ongoing debate in International Relations (IR) as to why there is apparently no non-Western IR theory in Asia and what should be done to ‘mitigate’ that situation. Its central contention is that simply calling for greater incorporation of ideas from the non-West and contributions by non-Western scholars from local ‘vantage points’ does not make IR more global or democratic, for that would do little to transform the discipline’s Eurocentric epistemological foundations. Re-envisioning IR in Asia is not about discovering or producing as many ‘indigenous’ national schools of IR as possible, but about reorienting IR itself towards a post-Western era that does not reinforce the hegemony of the West within (and without) the discipline. Otherwise, even if local scholars could succeed in crafting a ‘Chinese (or Indian, Japanese, Korean, etc.) School’, it would be no more than constructing a ‘derivative discourse’ of Western modernist social science.
Armchair strategists analyzing the far-reaching impli-
cations of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan tend to ignore or under-
emphasize one very important reality: The Soviet occupation of Af-
ghanistan is not yet an established fact. The Afghan resistance movement
has become a national liberation war, posing a real and formidable
challenge to Soviet control over Afghanistan. Six months after the Soviet
intervention in December 1979, Brezhnev claimed in the plenary session
of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union:
“Now life in Afghanistan is gradually returning to normal. Large bands of
counterrevolutionaries have been routed, and interventionists have suf-
fered a serious defeat.”‘ But four years later, the Soviet media continue
to report “counterrevolutionary” activities, admitting that “many public
institutions in Afghanistan have been destroyed. Industrial enterprises,
utility lines and irrigation systems have become targets of sabotage,
costing Afghan industry alone 2.8 billion Afghanis.3 On April 11, 1983,
Kabul Radio carried a broadcast in which Prime Minister Sultan Ali
Keshtmand revealed that half of Afghanistan’s hospitals and schools have
been destroyed and three-quarters of the country’s communications have
been disrupted by the guerrillas.4