Subaltern Voices Series

Speaking & Theorizing from the Disciplinary Margins


Dr. Geeta Chowdhry (Professor, Political Science and Director, Ethnic Studies at Northern Arizona University, US)

Topic: “Race(ing) International Relations: Postcolonialism, Contrapuntality and Transformative Possibilities.”

Date: Thursday, 12 October 2006


Co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program.

Abstract: Although critical to the formation of the modern world, the concept of ‘race’ in international relations (IR) has been largely neglected. ‘Contrapuntality’, a term that the late Edward Said borrowed from Western Classical music and used to highlight a methodology for knowledge production, is a useful tool for interrogating the absence of race in IR. Building on the work of recent postcolonial and other scholars, I suggest that a contrapuntal reading of concepts such as sovereignty, state, culture, identity, hegemony and resistance reveals that race and gender have been central to the construction of ‘international subjects’ and ‘international relations.’ In addition, I suggest that an engagement with race and the revisioning of received knowledge it enables, opens up transformative possibilities for international relations.

Bio: Geeta Chowdhry is a Professor of Political Science and Director of Ethnic Studies at Northern Arizona University. Her research interests include international relations theory, international political economy, political economy of development, global race and ethnic politics, postcolonial theory, nonviolence and social change, and South Asia. Her most recent publications include a co-edited book Power, Postcolonialism and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class (Routledge 2002, paperback 2004), and several articles and chapters including (with Mark Beeman) “Situating Colonialism, Race and Punishment” in Mary Bosworth and Jeanne Flavin (eds.) From Slavery to Globalization: How Race and Gender Shape Punishment in America (Rutgers University Press, 2006) and “Postcolonial Readings of Child Labour in a Globalized Economy,” in Geoffrey Underhill and Richard Stubbs (eds.) Political Economy and the Changing Global Order (Oxford University Press 2005).