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Theories of International Relations

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Nowadays, the theory of international relations undergoes a period of dynamic development of conceptual and methodological terms. Therefore, it does not constitute a homogeneous field of knowledge. It includes several coexisting areas that actively interact and compete. In the broadest sense, it is the systematic study of observed phenomena. It seeks to discover the essential variables in order to explain the behavior and to identify the types of relations between countries. However, international relations are extremely complex and multifaceted. Consequently, there is no particular unified theory that would explain all variety of international reality. Currently, there are various theoretical trends in the field of international studies, family relations and world politics. In fact, among the most basic theoretical schools are realism, liberalism, neo-Marxism, and postmodernism. The initial theses of analysis of some particular trends in international relations provide an opportunity to understand the meaning of the events taking place on the world stage. However, the topic of the present paper will revolve around postcolonial theory that is closely connected to the mentioned above approaches and sufficiently important for international relations. Moreover, in order to develop a deep insight into this matter, it is necessary to examine the issue through the works of Roxanne Doty, Sanjay Seth, and Hans Morgenthau that contain valuable information.

In general, the question of postcolonial theory is not widely discussed in modern society, as it does not include any particular interest to political scientists and theorists due to the presence of a variety of other hypotheses, which more extensively reveals the position of international relations. Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider that this theory is equally significant, as it describes problems that are crucial for the world. In addition, it criticizes the dominant theories of international relations, thus proclaiming their failure to create the statements in accordance with the world order. Thus, post-colonialism is regarded as an approach to the analysis of the world order that was organized after the beginning of the process of decolonization. Post-colonial theory, which does not touch solely the field of international relations but also sociology, literature, and cultural studies, attempts to elaborate the understanding of what is necessary to include in the arguments of the views of those whose positions have been previously considered inferior and are perceived to be such still. To be precise, it is the opinions of those who have lived under the auspices of the colonial powers and whose cultural and intellectual wealth are not taken into account when developing any new ideas. This theory does not suggest forgetting about the colonial past, but it rather seeks to remind about it and reveal the true side of exploitative practices of the colonial relationship.

Looking through the prism of history, the major period of colonialism began in the 16th century, when some European countries started forming colonies, namely dependent overseas territories in North and South America, Australia, Africa, and Asia that brought huge economic benefits. Specifically, as Seth claims, “it gave Europe economic and technological superiority relative to other parts of the world” (170). Thus, possessing the dominance over other colonies, the rulers sought to modernize society and its way of life regardless of the fact that non-Europeans did not approve of the particular idea, as it contradicted to their ethical and religious prejudices. It is an interesting fact that the successful progress of European international relations in the 19th century is closely connected to the heyday of the colonialism. At that period, it was possible to observe “the carving up of Africa and the development of political forms of a rule” (Seth 173). However, the era of colonialism did not last long, and already in the second half of the 19th century, many countries became independent. In substance, it is complicated to presume that the former colonies have become completely independent in their actions in the field of international relations. Despite the fact that direct intervention in the affairs of these countries is no longer possible, the state of their economies is still dependent on the activities of major international companies based in the former dominant countries. Considering the particular situation, the emergence of post-colonialism is sufficiently important. Primarily, Seth explains that “the ‘post’ in post-colonialism does not mark the period after the colonial era, but rather the effects of this era in shaping the world that is ours” (174). Therefore, the postcolonial theory attempts to understand the problems generated by European colonial politics and its effect on the further development of international relations.

Postcolonial theory is a major field of study that seeks to create a mechanism for proper international relations that would coincide with the world order. The basis of this theory is the critique of the doctrines of realism or neorealism and opinions concerning the current situation in the world. Thus, postcolonial theorists accuse realists of not seeing the possibility of organizing international relations. However, a chaotic interaction in realists’ perception is regulated through different personal contractual relations. Despite this, many states on the world stage seek to follow the following rules, namely achieve security of the state, satisfy the economic requirements of policy-relevant layers of population, and increase the prestige of the state. According to Roxane Doty, “neorealism gives analytical priority to a kind of power that operates on and through given subjects inhabiting a taken-for-granted world” (332). Therefore, it is possible to presume that the countries of Third World and Africa do not have a place in the doctrine of realism, as they do not possess enough power; consequently, they cannot fully participate in international relations.

In addition, postcolonial theorists focus their attention on the exploration and critique of the traditional approach of political realism created by Morgenthau. In his famous work Politics Among Nations, Hans Morgenthau has formulated the basic principles of political realism. Initially, the author proves the idea that the basis of international policy is the laws of political behavior, the roots of which are to be found in human nature. Primarily, the author described six principles that were the basis of realism. Thus, according to him, “the signpost of political realism is the concept of interest defined in terms of power” (Morgenthau 54). Apparently, if one looks at this thesis from the postcolonial point of view, one can find that only the states, which are economically sustainable and possess enough political power, receive more benefits and priorities in international relations. Thus, former colonial countries, namely the territories in Asia and Africa, are less likely to be granted equally to the dominant countries. It is necessary to mention that postcolonial theory is closely connected to the activity of the United Nations, as it also seeks to establish peace and prevent the emergence of the world’s conflicts.

In summary, the paper has examined postcolonial theory and its importance in the field of international relations. It has been found that the main purpose of this aspect of the study is to reveal the problems that have occurred during the period of colonialism and after it. In addition, it seeks to indicate how several concepts of international relations theories were interpreted in the world, how the rulers of European countries attempted to colonize the territories by ignoring the histories of the origin citizens and not considering the characteristics of these states. Specifically, the particular activity had led to the emergence of the various theories that proclaimed the power to be the main element of the governing and international relations. In fact, it is difficult to state that postcolonial theory offers an alternative variant of other theories; instead, it provides a thorough critique of its elements. However, the critique usually envisages the aspiration to change or to improve the object of discussion. Therefore, postcolonial theorists might gather the momentum and present the world with the ultimate option of international relations that would take into consideration the world order and characteristics of all countries. Nevertheless, it is only an idea that requires time and effort for its implementation.

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Number of pages
4
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7 days
Academic level
University
Subject area
International Relations
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MLA
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