Northwestern Events Calendar


IR Grad Student Workshop: The Underside of Order: Race in the Constitution of International Order

When: Friday, May 20, 2022
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Central

Where: Scott Hall, Room 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Stephen Monteiro   (847) 491-7451

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Graduate Student International Relations Workshop for a presentation by Ph.D. candidate in Political Science Owen Brown. Owen will be presenting a chapter from his dissertation, Ordering Through Race/Racialising Through Order.

Abstract: While prominent accounts of international order, including those of Bull ([1977] 2012) and Ikenberry (2011), display a subtle recognition of a darker underside to the ostensibly “liberal” or progressivist narratives of the creation and operation of international order, the possibility that international order continues to be constituted through forms of colonial and racialised rule is left unexplored. Against this commonplace side-lining of colonialism and race, in this paper, I argue for the centrality of race in understanding the constitution of international order, drawing on work in both critical race studies and studies of order, including that of Patrick Wolfe (2016), Barnor Hesse (2007), and Cedric Robinson ([1980] 2016). I reconceptualise race as a colonially constituted assemblage of discourses and practices that function to simultaneously regulate and regularise colonial domination or rule, understood broadly to encompass modernity/coloniality. This has significant implications for thinking and studying international order, I argue, insofar as international order, understood as incorporating both epistemic and governmental dimensions, involves the construction of difference, the recognition of patterns, and attempts to govern and secure regularity. Approaching race and international order in this way foregrounds how the two are dynamically intertwined and co-constitutive. Doing so opens up a space for analysing not only how the contemporary international order developed in tandem with colonialism and race but also how it remains imbricated in discourses and practices of racialisation, as well as for decolonising international order and imagining international order otherwise.

Owen Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science specializing in International Relations and Political Theory. His research focuses on Race and colonialism in international relations, international order, international law, IR theory, critical theory, post- and decolonial political thought, Black political thought, German colonialism, interpretive methods.

The IR student workshop is a safe space for graduate students to share their works in progress and get feedback from their peers. Papers will be shared a week before the event. Please email to sign up for the papers. The discussion will open with a 10-minute talk by the presenter to provide an overview of the project, their concerns, and the sort of feedback they are hoping to get; followed by the discussion before we open it up to everyone. 

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