Post-modernism and IR theory
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Whether there is a new age or post-modern era or not, there have been massive changes in the world recently which are major challenges to the International systems and to International relations in general. To mention the major changes:-

  • The collapse of the Eastern bloc
  • The 'triumph of capitalism'
  • The development of international society
  • The growth of global news media and communications systems
  • The unrestrained international trading of currencies and commodities
  • Global warming and other un-managed environmental changes and resource usages
  • The opening up of China
  • The industrialisation of almost all countries, and agriculture.
  • The 'capitalisation' of the remaining areas of land and activities (such as leisure)

This is an extensive list, and International Society has not responded well to most of these changes.

There is a post-modern way of thinking about these changes, (which is 'opposed' to the 'realist view'):-

  1. There is a 'crisis of representation' in politics - who gets elected, and how they can truly represent their constituencies. It is a logical impossibility to fully represent all ones constituents.
  2. This is one of many paradoxes in public life which are becoming more obvious
  3. To rethink the questions of empowerment, power and resistance to power
  4. To question the political functions of knowledge, memory and history (e.g. we are fed 'official' history, which we may accept even though our own personal, family and friends' experiences contradict it)
  5. To provide new interpretations of the relation between part and whole, localities and totalities, nationalities and inter-nationalities, time and space, pace and place, and boundaries and breaches of them
  6. To raise the question of 'subaltern voices'. History is usually in the past been written by and for the Generals. Is this more true or useful than history written by a Corporal ? Most history is also euro-centric - and this raises issues of race, gender, ethnicity, nativity, exile, migration, needs and rights. Which is the REAL reality of history ?
  7. Modern statecraft tries to tame resistances, domesticate or exteriorise excess, and to create a semblance of an exclusive space that the state can then claim to represent
  8. Traditional practices of international law and diplomacy have taken for granted that they represent stable communities with fixed identities

I have adapted this from "Beginning Postmodernism", by Tim Woods, Manchester University Press, 1999, p 247.

I find this very interesting - how can we adapt our thinking to fully encompass these changed conditions ?

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