Mainstream International Relations Has Excluded Multiplicity of Voices and Issues

Mainstream International Relations Has Excluded Multiplicity of Voices and Issues

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For the most part of second half of twentieth century, realist mode of thinking had dominated the discipline of international relations (IR), at least in the United States. Scholars and diplomats such as Hans Morgenthau and Henry Kissinger steered US foreign policy towards a state centric realist ‘highway’. The main signposts on that highway, among many others, were anarchy, national security, sovereignty and power politics. However, in 1960s, realism came under attack for its lack of scientific vigor. In response to their critics, neo-realists attempted to develop their methodology on a truly ‘positivist’ grounds to account for an objective and universal ‘science’ of IR (Tickner, 1992; 11). In the subsequent decades, realist ideology, along with its dominant positivist methodology, was confronted by multiple schools of thought. Notable among these are, liberal institutionalism, Marxism, constructivism and Critical theory of Frankfort School. The particular ‘voices of dissent’ (George & Campbell, 1990; 269) under consideration in this paper, however, are postmodern and feminist responses to mainstream realist and liberal IR theory. In the light of post-structural and feminist insights to social theory and knowledge construction, the paper endeavors to build on the thesis that mainstream IR has been narrowly defined and contested by the dominant players of the field. In carrying out this narrowly defined ‘modernist’ project, it is argued here that mainstream IR has excluded multiplicity of voices and issues. Furthermore, these voices and issues not only have the potential to bring their unique insights to IR, but are also sensitive to changes in international affairs. The second part of argument flows naturally from the first prep...


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...and denaturalization of dominant discourses have theoretical and practical implications for agency and transformation in IR. In carrying out their respective projects, postmodern and feminist IR theories have carved out a thinking space that can be appropriated by marginalized voices. They have also restructured the debate around various critical concepts such as state, power, security, sovereignty and identity in a way that has given voice to those ‘silenced’ by mainstream IR accounts. Feminists, in particular, have appropriated gender in various ways to show the gendered nature of domestic, national and international sphere. By diluting the arbitrary distinction between public/private, self/other, subject/object feminist and postmodern scholars have put an end to the mainstream politics of exclusion and modern categories of unity and homogeneity.

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