Seminar: International Relations as Inter-Cosmological Relations?

You are warmly invited to this seminar by Professor Giorgio Shani on Wednesday 24th May 2023.

This presentation will critically examine an attempt to pluralize International Relations by accommodating geocultural difference as represented by ‘Global IR’. ‘Global IR’ is based on a pluralistic universalism which ‘allows us to view the world of IR as a large, overarching canopy with multiple foundations’ (Acharya 2014). While this commitment to greater geo-cultural pluralism does indeed help to decentre the West from the centre-stage of IR so that it becomes ‘just one among several centres of wealth, power and cultural authority’ (Acharya and Buzan, 2019), ‘Global IR’ reproduces the values, norms, institutions and ontology of Westphalian IR. 

Instead, it is argued that a ‘post-western’ IR should be relational and interrogate the very principle of universality upon which Global International Society (Acharya and Buzan 2019) is based. The starting point of a ‘post-western IR’ (Shani 2008) should be an acknowledgment that we live in a world of many worlds, each with their own understanding of universality and particularity. These worlds are not separate but enmeshed, they intersect and influence one another, and collectively form a pluriverse (Escobar 2020) of different ‘cosmologies’ rather than a single globe. Cosmologies refer ‘primarily to the beliefs that people, societies, or religions have of the “ordered” nature of the cosmos: how they believe the world to be structured’ (Kurki 2020). They also have a normative dimension: they link theories of origins with a set of thick normative political and moral claims which offer the possibility of going beyond what is (Behr and Shani 2021). In a political rather than scientific sense (see Allan 2019, Kurki 2020), they challenge hegemonic iterations of geocultural difference in IR by interrogating the relationship between territory, culture and difference; the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular;’ and humans and the environment. IR, in short, should forget attempts to ‘globalise’ the discipline and focus instead on inter (and intra) cosmological relations in a pluriverse. 

Professor Shani’s seminar will take place in the Social Sciences Building SR 14.33. Attendance is free and registration is not required to attend.

Professor Giorgio Shani (PhD, London) is Visiting Professor in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Professor of Politics and International Studies at International Christian University (ICU) in Japan where he was Department Chair from 2017-2021. He has served as President of the Asia-Pacific region and Chair of the Global Development Section of the International Studies Association (ISA) and is currently Chair of RC43 "Religion and Politics" of the International Political Science Association (IPSA). 

His main research interests focus on Religion and Nationalism; Human Security; and "Post-Western" International Relations Theory with reference to South Asia and Japan. He is author of Sikh Nationalism and Identity in a Global Age (Routledge 2008) and Religion, Identity and Human Security (Routledge 2014); co-author of Sikh Nationalism (Cambridge University Press 2022); and co-editor of Protecting Human Security in a Post 9/11 World (Palgrave 2007), Religion and Nationalism in Asia (Routledge 2019) and Rethinking Peace (Rowman and Littlefield 2019). Recently, he co-edited a forthcoming special issue with Review of International Studies on “Pluriversal Relationality”. 

His profile (and articles) can be viewed here