Global Stage And Its Subjects: International Theory Meets Intellectual History

Course Description: 

The course aims at providing students with an overview of theorising in the field of International Relations. Although the field itself took shape as an institutionalised academic pursuit only in the twentieth century and for a long time remained a predominantly Western engagement, in many ways it emerged as a response to questions posed by European expansion beyond Europe’s traditional boundaries. Throughout the century, these non-European origins of International Relations (IR) theorising were, by and large, ignored. However, as the twentieth century was nearing its end, especially after the end of the cold war, more and more IR theorists started arguing against this initial Eurocentric view of the field. Not only because political ordering on the ground called for appreciation of the diversity of the world, but also because the analytical tools with which IR theory approached this world required critical re-examination. On the one hand, this led to significant widening of the traditional field of study, bringing in issues, subjects, culture and regions initially thought to be outside of the discipline’s focus; on the other, the discipline’s horizons were also extended in temporal terms, inviting more detailed study of historically distant ideas and practices. This course cannot possibly provide detailed analysis of this long and increasingly complicated process. Yet, it will attempt to present some important nodal points in it, as well as some possible connections between these points that students may then choose to explore in their individual projects.

So, the course’s main objectives are:

  • to provide students with an understanding of intellectual and practical functions of theorising in

    international relations;

  • to dispel the idea of ‘theory’ as a boring but mandatory engagement with abstract literature or a

    junk-shop of ready-made frameworks to be applied to various cases;

  • to present theorising as a dramatic engagement with context-specific questions;

  • to indicate how advances in understanding, once these occur, may be seen as outcomes of

    dialogical engagements between theories.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Students should develop ability to place their own research-questions into the overall context of IR theorising;

  2. Critically engage with ideas discussed by various theorists and schools of thought;

  3. Get an overview or some of the state-of-the-art theorising in the filed.

Assessment: 
  • Active participation in the seminars-10%

  • Three position-papers for weeks 2-7 (the exact allocation of this assignment to be discussed in

    detail during the first session) - 45% (15% each)

  • Take-home exam (essay) - 45% 

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