Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism in International Relations Theory

  • Citation: Errol A Henderson (2013) Hidden in plain sight: racism in international relations theory, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 26:1, 71-92
    • Topics:
    • Human Rights
    • Keywords:
    • anarchy
    • realism
    • liberalism
    • white supremacist IR theory

This article addresses the centrality of racism in international relations (IR) theory; specifically, in realism and liberalism, two of the most prominent paradigms of IR. It examines the extent to which these major paradigms of world politics are oriented by racist—primarily, white supremacist—precepts that inhere within their foundational construct, namely, anarchy. I maintain that due to the centrality of anarchy—and other racially infused constructs—within these prominent paradigms, white supremacist precepts are not only nominally associated with the origins of the field, but have an enduring impact on IR theory and influence contemporary theses ranging from neorealist conceptions of the global system to liberal democratic peace claims, and constructivist theses as well.

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