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Chen, Ching-Chang. The absence of non-western IR theory in Asia reconsidered
2010, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 11(1), pp. 1–23.
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Abstract:

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.

Comment: Ching-Chang Chen discusses how to shift the western focus in IR to a non-western one. His article makes an important point in that simply calling for greater incorporation of ideas beyond the west will not make IR more global - we need to move beyond tokenistic inclusion towards transforming the Eurocentric foundations of the discipline. Moreover, the article argues that scholarship to produce Asian IR theorising has maintained the treatment of the East and West as oppositional entities, and thus reinforces the structural dominance of Western theories in IR. The author calls for decolonisation as necessary for the democratization of IR which must take place not only in the periphery, ie in Asian countries, but also in the core. This article is suitable for an introductory course on global/postcolonial IR and can be used as a basis for the debate on decolonising the typically western discipline of IR.

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