Postcolonial Theories and Challenges to ‘First World-ism’

  • Citation: Agathangelou, Anna M., and Heather M. Turcotte. "Postcolonial theories and challenges to ‘First World-ism’." Gender Matters in Global Politics: A Feminist Introduction to International Relations. New York: Routledge (2010): 44-58.
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • postcolonial feminism
    • hegemonic power relations
    • first world feminism(s)
    • geopolitical segregation
    • materiality
    • critical geographies

The discipline of International Relations (IR) is often considered to be a site of examination into global power relationships, and a place to develop theories, methods and practices that provide insight to the materiality1 of global politics. However, the discipline itself has been and continues to be a geopolitical site of intense power struggles and negotiations. Increasingly, since the 1980s, the various theories and methods of IR have produced explicit analyses on the relationships of global power within IR’s own frameworks of knowledge production. In particular, the works of critical, feminist and postcolonial theorists have shifted the orientation of IR scholarship to consider the different confi gurations and effects of international politics when attentive to various objects, subjects and power relations circulating within critical geographies (Sylvester 1994; Walker 1993; Grovogui 2001; Chowdhry and Nair 2002). These interventions heed the exclusions of canonical IR theories and teachings and question its role in shaping global places, scales, networks and spatial relations. What kinds of political strategies and theoretical frameworks are currently being drawn upon to understand world politics and the discipline of IR?

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