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Provincialising International Relations through a reading of dharma

Shani, Giorgio and Behera, Navnita Chadha (2022) Provincialising International Relations through a reading of dharma. Review of International Studies, 48 (5). 837 - 856. ISSN 0260-2105

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S026021052100053X


This article will attempt to ‘provincialise’ (Chakrabarty, 2000) the ‘secular cosmology’ of International Relations (IR) through an examination of the relational cosmology of dharma. We argue that IR is grounded in ‘secularised’ Judaeo-Christian assumptions concerning time, relations between self and other, order, and the sovereign state that set the epistemic limits of the discipline. These assumptions will be ‘provincialised’ through an engagement with dharma based on a reading of The Mahābharāta, one of the oldest recorded texts in the world. We argue that the concept of dharma offers a mode of understanding the multidimensionality of human existence without negating any of its varied, contradictory expressions. By deconstructing notions of self and other, dharma illustrates how all beings are related to one another in a moral, social, and cosmic order premised on human agency, which flows from ‘inside-out’ rather than ‘outside-in’ and that is governed by a heterogenous understanding of time. This order places limits on the state's exercise of power in a given territory by making the state responsible for creating social conditions that would enable all beings to realise their potential, thus qualifying the principle of state sovereignty that remains the foundation of the ‘secular cosmology of IR’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 11:45
Last Modified: 17 May 2024 06:18

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