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Chapter 11: Conclusion What does it all mean? © 2014 Cynthia Weber.

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1 Chapter 11: Conclusion What does it all mean? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

2 Learning aims: Understand how IR theory itself can be seen as a culture Question how IR theory makes sense of the world Question what is typical and deviant in the world of IR theory Reflect on the politics of the popular © 2014 Cynthia Weber

3 Last week: Anarchism Myth: “We are the 99%”Key concepts: Liberty, public/Private, action Just because a person battles for their private liberties in public does not mean they are battling for the public or constituting a new public like the 99% © 2014 Cynthia Weber

4 The IR myths 2. Realism “anarchy is the permissive cause of war” 3. Idealism “there is an international society” 4. Constructivism “anarchy is what states make of it” 5. Gender “gender is a variable” 6. Globalization “it is the end of history” 7. NeoMarxism “Empire is the new world order” 8. Modernization and Development “there is a clash of civilizations” 9. Environmentalism “human-made climate change is an inconvenient truth” 10. Anarchism “We are the 99%” © 2014 Cynthia Weber

5 Questions we have asked in this course: What makes a particular story about international politics appear to be true? How does the “truth” function in a particular IR myth? Is IR theory a culture? If so, what must go without saying for IR theory as a culture to function? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

6 What is culture? (box 1.1) “Culture is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings – the ‘giving and taking of meaning’ – between members of a society or group” (Stuart Hall, 1997) “The social production and reproduction of sense, meaning, and consciousness” (John Hartley, in O’Sullivan et al., 1994) “an ensemble of stories we tell about ourselves” (Clifford Geertz, 1975) © 2014 Cynthia Weber

7 Conscious and unconscious ideology Conscious ideology Easy to identify and offer explicit statements about what one is for or against and what is to be done in the face of what one supports or opposes e.g. Realism, liberalism, Marxism Unconscious ideology Ideology that is not formally named and that is therefore difficult to identify. It is the common sense foundation of our worldviews that is beyond debate e.g. boys will be boys, all English people are white Hard to identify and hard to question © 2014 Cynthia Weber

8 Questioning IR theory as a whole 1. How does IR theory make sense of the world? 2. What does IR theory say is typical and deviant in that world? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

9 How does IR theory make sense of the world? (table 11.1) Actors Sovereign nation-states Context International anarchy Interactions Practices of states and statespeople to confront and possibly resolve questions of war and peace “High politics” such as diplomacy and war © 2014 Cynthia Weber

10 What is typical and deviant for IR theory? (table 11.2) Typical - North American- Centric - Racist - Classist - Masculinist Deviant To defy or question the terms in which IR theory tells stories about international politics © 2014 Cynthia Weber

11 IR theory’s myth function (table 11.3) What IR theory defers IR theory defers the myth function itself How IR theory defers it How it defers the myth function is by (dis)placing criticism of IR theory beyond the bounds of IR theory Critique of IR theory does not count as serious IR theory itself IR theory itself underwent (and is always really undergoing) a mythologizing function so that its framework for analysis appears to be natural, neutral and common sense rather than cultural, ideological, and in need of critical analysis © 2014 Cynthia Weber

12 The theories/traditions and their films 2. Realism Lord of the Flies (1963) 3. Idealism Independence Day (1996) 4. Constructivism Wag the Dog (1997) 5. Gender Fatal Attraction (1987) 6. Globalization The Truman Show (1998) 7. NeoMarxism Memento (2001) 8. Modernization and Development East is East (2000) 9. Environmentalism WALL-E (2008) 10. Anarchism The Hunger Games (2012) © 2014 Cynthia Weber

13 Why pair IR theory with popular films? (box 11.1) 1. Films bring IR theory’s story points into relief 2. Films offer us contained, nearly parallel worlds in which to critically rethink IR theory 3. IR myths and popular films produce and circulate similar myths. Therefore, we must analyze the popular in order to understand IR myths and international politics 4. Pairing popular films with serious IR theory exposes IR theory as a mythologized mix of fact and fiction 5. Popular films dramatize the myth function of IR theory and how what must go without saying is deferred and displaced © 2014 Cynthia Weber

14 Activity: Political Questions and the Politics of the Popular 1. Reflect alone What has been the most challenging part of interrogating IR myths? Is the course political? If so, how? What are the political consequences for IR theory if IR theory itself is a myth ? 2. Discuss together Is “the popular” always already “political”? What are the political consequences of mainstream IR theory’s understanding of what “serious” theorizing is? Who decides what is “high politics” and “low politics” and who/what is excluded from this way of thinking about politics? 3. Practice Compose a list of how this course has changed you and what you mean to do about that change – how can you put into practice what you have learned? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

15 Where does this all leave us? IR theory is a site of cultural practice All cultural sites are powerful arenas in which political struggles take place Culture is not opposed to politics Culture is political and politics is cultural © 2014 Cynthia Weber


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