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Challenging Western Dominance

Sucharita Sengupta

Edited by Bhupinder S. Chimni & Siddharth Mallavarapu
Pearson, New Delhi, 2012, pp. xxiv 472, Rs. 399.00


The discipline of International Relations in India, although vibrant and growing, has suffered from the straitjacket of having as its only points of reference, IR Theories originating in the western hemisphere. Although country of origin can hardly be held as a sweeping disqualification against scholarship, the acknowledgement of this fact can help scholars from non-western worlds become more self-reflexive about their own discipline. International Relations: Perspectives for the Global South steers IR towards the global south, with an emphasis on India, to open up an interdisciplinary dialogue between western IR and the social, political and economic realities of India.   The book was the outcome of sustained conversation about the state of the discipline, particularly in the Global South. First among the major concerns is the deeply-embedded ethnocentrism of the discipline, with North America dominating this branch of the social sciences, determining its intellectual agenda and monetizing research according-ly. The editors set out to challenge this dominance by opening up to issues and ways of thinking that are decidedly unorthodox as far as mainstream IR is concerned. They are also conscious that when traditional IR theories continually make references to events and patterns germane to their own geographical (and perhaps ideological?) location, the unfamiliarity can confuse students in India, South Asia or other locations in the Global South. But worse still, it can wipe out our understanding of our unique history and politics, the whys and wherefores of our engagement on a variety of issues with the rest of the world, and indeed, why some issues sidelined by mainstream IR may be crucial for us.   The contributors do not wish to neglect traditional concerns such as security and trade, or perspectives such as Realism and Liberalism (and their variants). There is a clear focus however, on Marxist, Construc-tivist and Critical perspectives, and all the issues that can be studied therein—colonialism, race, trade and human rights. The two big ideas running through the book are first, to provide students and teachers of IR well-written, easily accessible and updated knowledge on a variety of topics; and second, to enable readers to discover and understand the politics of knowledge-creation and its relation to power. The starting point of this quest then, is a round-up of the history of IR in India to understand how different generations of scholars engaged with and furthered the study of IR with India as the locus. Some major ...

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