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Rethinking emancipation in a critical IR: normativity, cosmology, and pluriversal dialogue

Behr, Hartmut and Shani, Giorgio (2021) Rethinking emancipation in a critical IR: normativity, cosmology, and pluriversal dialogue. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 49 (2). 368 - 391. ISSN 0305-8298

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Identification Number: 10.1177/03058298211031983


This article seeks to reconceptualise emancipation in critically theorising International Relations (IR) by developing ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ versions of normativity and applying them as conditions for a pluriversal dialogue between different cosmologies. We start with the premise that ‘critical IR’ is both Eurocentric and a-normative, and argue that a normative engagement with critical discourses both inside and outside the West is necessary to recapture its emancipatory promise. Drawing on the work of Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse and Jacques Derrida, we develop ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ versions of normativity. The former, we argue, operates as a critical corrective of thick normative positions, reclaiming their openness to difference, while not making substantive moral or political claims itself. We then apply these version of normativity to examine the possibility of a global pluriversal dialogue between different cosmologies. Cosmologies, we argue, refer to sets of ontological and epistemological claims about the human condition that are inherently normative. ‘Thin’ normativity applied to the ‘thick’ claims of cosmologies prevents the essentialisation and hierarchisation of cosmological difference(s) by revealing and de-constructing the latter’s potentially discriminatory, exclusionary, and violent tendencies. In so doing, it facilitates a global inter-cosmological dialogue which we regard as the objective of a post-western, critical IR.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 SAGE
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 11:42
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2024 02:54

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