“The West” and “Non-West” in the Space of International Relations Theory

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Recently the question of “pro-Western” orientation of the IR theory turned to become in the center of the academic discussions. Its critics as well as the adherents of “non-Western” theories are partly right. Really, during more than one and a half century the theory of international relations, born and developed mostly in the West had been mostly supporting the ideas, being forms first in Europe, later in the USA. The Anglo-Saxon authors are still dominating in the discipline, not only quantitatively (the huge scale of the publications of literature and professional magazines in English plus influence of the universities and scientific centers) as well as qualitatively (impressive financing opens the possibilities for the working out of the new ideas and the development of the ideas of different “schools” of thought - political realism, liberalism, constructivism, postmodernism, post-Marxism etc.). In the theories of IR was felt ideological biases. But on the wave of decolonization and later, in the context of the rising of Asian and other countries in world politics, the “Western” dominance was challenged by the IR-scholars from PR of Chine, India etc., who try to construct their own theories of international relations. The balance is slowly but continuously changing. But “Non-Western” theories are also not free from the ideological biases. Quite often they reject or severely criticize “Western” theories just because of their origin. Even more often they in fact continue to develop the same “Western” ideas, just adding to them the local thinker’s names or mentioning some national traditions or religious and cultural heritage. But if the Theory of international relations is a science, then, strictly speaking, in what country its main personalities were born and what language they were speaking, is not important. Obviously, the elements of ideology would be present. Just like any other social science, which deals not only with structures, but with human beings as well, it would be inevitably ideological. But it does not mean that theory may be identified with ideology. To solve this problem is possible through deconstruction of the theories, their “cleaning” of too obvious ideological moments - so the position of the IR scholar has to be a priori critical but preserving already achieved essence.

About the authors

Tatyana Aleksandrovna Alekseeva

MGIMO University of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Author for correspondence.
Email: ataleks@mail.ru
Moscow, Russia


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