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Lecture 26

POLS 2200 Lecture Notes - Lecture 26: Common-Pool Resource, Eurocentrism, Jon Runyan

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2200
Cindy Clarke

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POLS2200 International Relations 11/29/16
Feminist Understandings in IR Theory
Post-Positivism (Interpretivism)
Post-structuralism, post-colonialism and feminism are all approaches that fall under
interpretivism (also called post-positivism)
o Not necessarily made for IR, but are applicable
o What makes them different from the other theories are that they are more of a world-
view in general more about how we understand the world than specific theories
Ho do these three approahes go a little further tha soial ostrutiis i their ritique of
positivism and the positivist approaches to IR?
o Whereas social constructivism focuses on shared knowledge and understanding, these
approaches seek to reveal different types of power relations that underlie the dominant
(positivist) approaches to IR
Not only do we operate by shared meanings, but inherently there is always a
power relationship in these shared meanings
By this, we mean that these approaches argue that the language and discourse
we use are all theories that privilege some over others
Example: feminist power relationship is focused on gender inequalities
o They seek to liberate us from these power relations by exposing them
Political projects (liberator) the point of revealing these relationships is to
change them
More of a political agenda to them
Use of laguage a hage the toe of hat is eig said e. use of ord refugee s.
igrat – refugees are afforded rights; migrants are not)
Focuses on language and discourse
Seeks to uncover the power relations embedded in our language and discourse
o Doest hae a speifi poer relatioship it looks at
Looking at neo-realism, for example, it seeks to uncover the biases in the neo-realist
understanding of the world who these biases benefit and against whom these biases
o By always focusing on a strong unitary state it immediately discounts the experiences of
weaker states and those with border struggles
o Works to perpetuate the dominance of larger, western states
o Other states would be discounted or become like the West
Post-structuralists begin with the argument that language is more than a means of
o Rather, the language we use (including our theories of IR) privilege certain
understandings of global politics and marginalize and exclude others
There is a power relationship in everything we say
Post-structuralists thus argue that language the words we choose and how we use them
plays an important role in constructing meaning
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POLS2200 International Relations 11/29/16
o Meaning-making is always biased according to post-structuralists
The strutures upo hih soiet is uilt is ased o these eaigs (invisible rules)
Fats are constituted or determined by the language and discourse through which they are
o Every fact we have is working to the benefit of some and the cost of another
o Believe that theories take hold because there is a dominant power benefiting from them
and making sure they take hold
o Look at how we interpret and use language
Post-structuralists therefore argue against having one theory of IR (such as neo-realism)
o They argue for many different theories of IR a large number of competing views on IR
from different cultural, political, ethnic and social positions
o Each theory would be competing and each one would come from a different kind of
perspective and have its own power relationships
Not really the type of school of thought that policy-makers are drawn to
o Just talking about what is wrong, not really constructive for policy-making
o Pick apart the theories and show they are not neutral, all have power relationships
o These structures are based on the language, except these structures are biased (unlike
soial ostrutiists, ho dot look at ias
Takes a post-structuralist perspective but focuses on how language and discourse in IR are
biased against the former colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America (west and global south)
o How does the language we use in IR perpetuate this dominance?
o Ters like third orld iplied lesser states
o deelopig outries has ias that iplies the are orkig toards eig
westernized, like us
o gloal south as a attept to eoe ore eutral, ut there is still ias
o Most of these labels have other meanings for the countries they are referring to
Argues that even though formal colonialism is over and former colonies are technically equal to
the colonizing states, the logic and ideas underpinning the relationship between former
colonizers (the West) and the former colonies (the Global South) continue to reflect a hierarchy
o Even when we try to be neutral, there is still a hierarchy perpetuated
They reflect Western concepts and understandings of the world
o In other words, they are Eurocentric
o They assume that the West lies at the centre of all things
o The West including theories of IR thus seeks to remake the world in its image
Feminist Approaches to IR
What are the three major assumptions of feminist approaches?
1. Feminist approaches use gender as the major category of analysis.
Feminist scholars argue that gender permeates social life and has profound yet largely
unnoticed effects on the actions of states, international organizations and transnational
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