Conclusion: Recovering International Relations from Colonial Practice

  • J. Marshall Beier


In the preceding pages, I have argued that international theory, indeed social theory more generally, is cosmologically inflected in ways that (re)produce the restrictive hegemonic concepts, categories, and commitments of the dominating society. I have pointed out that there are important senses in which it is monological and spoken from positions of conspicuous privilege. I have gone so far as to claim that all theory is violent. And yet I do not propose that we either can or should want to dispense with theorizing, for to do so would be to accept a definition of theory as something it need not be. Bhabha draws our attention to what he describes as the “damaging and self-defeating assumption that theory is necessarily the elite language of the socially and culturally privileged” (Bhabha 1994: 19). It is nothing of the sort. It might, however, be fairly claimed that it has been appropriated by the socially and culturally privileged to the extent that it is they who have defined what counts as theory and what does not. It is thus that theory has mapped comfortably with the voice of the hegemonologue—a voice that, through the authority of its scholarly raconteurs, has had the audacity to hold that it, and it alone, speaks bona fide theory. Impoverishing International Relations, this pretension has underwritten the confinement of Indigenous people(s) to other disciplinary contexts as well as their treatment as objects of study rather than as credentialed speaking subjects in their own right.


Indigenous People International Relation Oral History Theoretical Commitment International Theory 
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© J. Marshall Beier 2005

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  • J. Marshall Beier

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