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Shimizu, Kosuke. The Genealogy of Culturalist International Relations in Japan and Its Implications for Post-Western Discourse
2018, All Azimuth: A Journal of Foreign Policy and Peace, 1(7), pp. 121–136
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, Contributed by: Cassandra Dube
Abstract: 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.

Comment: This article concerns Japanese Culturalist methodology in international relations. It encourages letting go of western mainstream international relations and examininf a culturalist viewpoint in order to challenge the western view on international relations, intervening in the debate on different IR theories. It is a suitable paper for a course on the history of decolonial IR.

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Zarakol, Ayşe. After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West
2011, After defeat : how the east learned to live with the west. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge studies in international relations, 118).
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Publisher’s Note:

Not being of the West; being behind the West; not being modern enough; not being developed or industrialized, secular, civilized, Christian, transparent, or democratic - these descriptions have all served to stigmatize certain states through history. Drawing on constructivism as well as the insights of social theorists and philosophers, After Defeat demonstrates that stigmatization in international relations can lead to a sense of national shame, as well as auto-Orientalism and inferior status. Ayşe Zarakol argues that stigmatized states become extra-sensitive to concerns about status, and shape their foreign policy accordingly. The theoretical argument is supported by a detailed historical overview of central examples of the established/outsider dichotomy throughout the evolution of the modern states system, and in-depth studies of Turkey after the First World War, Japan after the Second World War, and Russia after the Cold War

Comment: The author attempts to understand East-West relations by examining the dynamics that constructed the behaviour of the East towards the West and vice versa. Zarakol argues that within the international system, following major historical events such as the both World Wars, the Western states continued to be understood as the 'insiders', while their Eastern counterparts became 'outsider' states. This outsider status resulted in stigmatisation of the states she studies, and through being stigmatised the outsiders felt inferior and their access to certain political, economic and social privileges was hindered. The book is therefore a highly useful overview of East-West relations for students of the history of international relations, and can be used within the debate about East-West relations in the post-Cold War world. This book is also useful for understanding how theoretical concepts in diplomatic history/ international relations can be applied to real-world cases.

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