This work uses postcolonial theory to examine the implications of race, class and gender relations for the structuring or world politics. It addresses further themes central to postcolonial theory, such as the impact of representation on power relations, the relationship between global capital and power and the space for resistance and agency in the context of global power asymmetries.
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.
The discipline of International Relations (IR) does not reflect the voices, experiences, knowledge claims, and contributions of the vast majority of the societies and states in the world, and often marginalizes those outside the core countries of the West. With IR scholars around the world seeking to find their own voices and reexamining their own traditions, our challenge now is to chart a course toward a truly inclusive discipline, recognizing its multiple and diverse foundations. This article presents the notion of a “Global IR” that transcends the divide between the West and the Rest. The first part of the article outlines six main dimensions of Global IR: commitment to pluralistic universalism, grounding in world history, redefining existing IR theories and methods and building new ones from societies hitherto ignored as sources of IR knowledge, integrating the study of regions and regionalisms into the central concerns of IR, avoiding ethnocentrism and exceptionalism irrespective of source and form, and recognizing a broader conception of agency with material and ideational elements that includes resistance, normative action, and local constructions of global order. It then outlines an agenda for research that supports the Global IR idea. Key element of the agenda includes comparative studies of international systems that look past and beyond the Westphalian form, conceptualizing the nature and characteristics of a post-Western world order that might be termed as a Multiplex World, expanding the study of regionalisms and regional orders beyond Eurocentric models, building synergy between disciplinary and area studies approaches, expanding our investigations into the two-way diffusion of ideas and norms, and investigating the multiple and diverse ways in which civilizations encounter each other, which includes peaceful interactions and mutual learning. The challenge of building a Global IR does not mean a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, it compels us to recognize the diversity that exists in our world, seek common ground, and resolve conflicts.