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.
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.
This book interrogates the African postcolonial condition with a focus on the thematics of liberation predicament and the long standing crisis of dependence (epistemological, cultural, economic, and political) created by colonialism and coloniality. A deployment of historical, philosophical, and political knowledge in combination with the equiprimordial concepts of coloniality of power, coloniality of being, and coloniality of knowledge yields a comprehensive understanding of African realities of subalternity.
‘The Status of African Women in Foreign Policy’ focuses on the necessity of reducing the underrepresentation of African women in foreign policy, the barriers that hinder this development, and solutions to overcome those. According to Bimha, filling the gender gap, or solving the underrepresentation of women, will constitute the end of discrimination against women. Moreover, she argues, this is necessary to repair the currently male-dominated nature of international relations and will complement to reformation process of gender stereotypes, namely, “men as decision-makers and women as subjects of war-related decisions”. However, Bimha recognizes that certain barriers that this underrepresentation are alive. She notes that, although the number of female representatives is increasing, these women are often assigned to less significant posts.
The impact of IR & politics being male-dominated
The heads of state often make diplomatic appointments. If a head of state, which is often male, is conservative, he is less likely to appoint female diplomats, as they are often very progressive and transformation-oriented. This is also apparent in party-bias, a phenomenon where party leaders prefer to promote male candidates over female candidates. , even though female candidates have not been proven to attract fewer votes than male candidates. The underrepresentation of women in politics is a vicious cycle, with males in the male-dominated field of IR theory and politics preferring the appointment of men over the appointment of women. This is reinforced by sociocultural standards and expectations, as African women are still mostly associated with the domestic sphere. However, little attention is paid to IR theory and politics being male-dominated, even though it is apparent that this does have a big impact on the underrepresentation of women in the field.
The underrepresentation of feminism in the IR curriculum and its consequences
In the ‘Introduction Course International Relations’ at Utrecht University, different IR theories have been discussed. While extensive attention has been paid to especially realism and liberalism, which are both male-dominated IR theories, feminism has been discussed for exactly 3 minutes and 48 seconds during the lecture on IR theories and has not been discussed in the seminars to the same extent as the other IR theories. This is a great although a small example of feminism theories being vastly underrepresented in the IR curriculum. Therefore, Bimha argues that the international relations curriculum should be reformed into a more gender-sensitive one with an increased focus on feminism and female contributions in the field.
The importance of spreading awareness of IR and politics being male-dominated can be illustrated by a small comparison with another article on women in international relations. The other article reviewed appoints the underrepresentation of women in the IR field to them being a minority group and therefore behaving differently, or them focussing on topics that are not considered important in mainstream IR. These arguments may seem plausible to people who lack the understanding that the field of IR is male-dominated. But students who are aware of this unequal representation may ask the following questions: who steers mainstream IR research? What causes women to be a minority in the field of IR? Who keeps that disbalance intact? Thinking about these questions and critically reviewing the conclusions of reports on women in international relations is a crucial step in academics. However, the ability to perform this critical thinking is subject to one’s understanding of the field. Therefore, awareness of and the spread of knowledge on the IR field being male-dominated, thereby reinforcing the vicious cycle of women being underrepresented, is incredibly important and should be part of the IR curriculum.
Keeping in mind the variety of social, cultural and economic conditions distinguishing African Societies, the author divides the continent into three macro-regions: (1) Africa of the colonial economy (enlarged West Africa) (2) Africa of the concession companies (Congo Basin) (3) Africa of the labor reserves (East and South Africa).The dialectics between colonial policies and social formations and modes of production in ternal to the regions are seen as a major determinant in shaping the history of underdevelopment in Black Africa. On this basis, four historical periods are analyzed : (1) The pre-mercantilist period (2) The mercantilist period (3) The preparatory phase for colonization (4) The colonization period. Concluding the discussion of the colonization period, the author points to the necessity of viewing African socities as dependent, peripheral ones, shaped according to the needs of dominant, capitalist societies.
Case studies, theories, and examples from Africa are exceedingly rare in international relations. Indeed, examples from Africa are, at best, valued for their nuisance potential. This article argues that the study of international relations is limited by this interpretation of Africa, and by a larger ignorance of African contributions. Key debates on the African continent surrounding the central concepts of mainstream international relations, including the state, power, and self-determination, are interrogated with a view to expanding their use in contemporary international relations. The examples of apartheid South Africa, the African debate on political economy and development, and African perspectives on questions raised by the liberal paradigm, are used to illustrate the importance of the region to the more global discourses. In examining the important contribution of African scholarship to debates central to international relations, this article highlights the necessity for engaging African scholars in the broader discourses of international relations.
This article explores how Nigeria’s foreign policy has responded to transnational security challenges in West Africa. It engages in a conceptual overview of the discourse on transnational security and links this with a discussion of Nigeria’s foreign policy towards West Africa. Of note is Nigeria’s pursuit of a leadership role in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in its quest for security, economic integration and development. Several questions are posed: What do Nigerian policymakers consider to be the most significant transnational threats in West Africa? How and through what legitimate policies and instruments do they respond to such threats? How important is ECOWAS to Nigeria’s attempt to respond to transnational threats? And how effective have Nigeria’s attempts to influence the ECOWAS agenda in this regard been? Although ECOWAS has remained central to Nigeria’s responses to transnational security threats in the subregion, the country has not been able to match its rhetoric on addressing transnational security threats with far-reaching concrete achievements. It is suggested that social transformation of Nigeria’s current foreign policy (that is, to one focused and committed to putting people at its centre) and a change in the policies of dominant global powers towards West Africa would enhance human emancipation and eliminate the numerous insecurities confronting the peoples of the subregion.
Drawing upon a book by J.M. Lecomte on the genocide of the Jews by the Nazi Germans, the author examines the seven stages in the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda. These stages, which do not necessarily follow one another in time but may overlap, can be classified in the following way: (i) definition of the target group on the basis of some criteria; (ii) registration of the victims; (iii) designation or outward identification of the victims; (iv) restriction and confiscation of goods; (v) exclusion from professions, working activities and means of transportation, among other things; (vi) systematic isolation; (vii) mass extermination.