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Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism in International Relations Theory

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Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism in International Relations Theory

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Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism in International Relations Theory Errol A. Henderson Dept. of Political Science Pennsylvania State University eah13@psu.edu

ABSTRACT: This essay addresses the centrality of racism in international relations (IR) theory. It examines the extent to which realism, liberalism, and constructivism are oriented by racist precepts grounded in the intellectual foundation of IR. Specifically, my argument is that a racist dualism inheres within the philosophical assumptions informing the foundational constructs of IR: namely, anarchy, power, and democracy; and due to the centrality of these constructs within the prominent theoretical frameworks that draw on them, such as the balance of power, the clash of civilizations, the democratic peace, and even recently promulgated social constructivist theses, racist precepts have an enduring impact on IR theory today. The draft focuses on realism and liberalism, but later revisions will extend the analyses to constructivism, as well.

Introduction The Study of Race and Racism in International Relations Racism and IR: Ontological, Ethical, Epistemological, and Empirical Dimensions The Racial Contract as the Basis of the Social Contract Anarchy and World Politics: The Tropical Roots of IR Theory Racism, the Balance of Power, and the Clash of Civilizations Tracing Racist Assumptions in IR Theory: The Kantian Peace Conclusion

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Draft prepared for the International Studies Association, San Diego, CA, March 2006. Please do not cite without the author’s permission. Comments welcomed

Introduction

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This essay addresses the centrality of racism in international relations (IR) theory. It examines the extent to which realism, liberalism, and constructivism are oriented by racist precepts grounded in the intellectual foundation of IR. Specifically, my argument is that a racist dualism inheres within the philosophical assumptions informing the foundational constructs of IR:...

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