Three Modes of Anarchy

  • Date: 24 May 10:30 - 12:00
  • Location: Anna van Buerenplein, Room 2.21 (Auditorium)

White Anarchy, Colored Anarchy and Postcolonial Anarchy

For a concept so integral to the discipline of International Relations, “anarchy” is very thinly analyzed or developed within its scholarship. This is unfortunate but is perhaps not unintentional. Drawing on scholarship from critical race theory, indigenous politics, and postcolonial theory, Krishna elaborates on three modes in which anarchy is defined and deployed by scholars within the discipline of IR.

White Anarchy defines the international system as comprised of putatively equal states locked in competition with each other in the absence of an ordering orderer. It is a fecund idea that is immensely generative of many of IR’s pet obsessions such as the security dilemma, alliance formation and deformation, utilitarian calculi in war initiation, explaining the rise of the west to the apogee of the world system, etc. It is an important element in explaining global inequality as a consequence of a meritocratic world.

Colored Anarchy is the attribution of certain qualities to indigenous peoples of the new world and the colored peoples of the third world as a precursor to the expropriation of their lands, the enslavement and/or elimination of their bodies, and the colonization of their lands. Colored Anarchy defines non-whites as ontologically incapable of collective action, as preternaturally anarchic, as incapable of improving their lands through propertied individualism embedded in social contracts, and therefore as deserving of conquest and control.

Postcolonial Anarchy examines the deployment of the anarchy trope by nationalist elites in developing nations in their characterization, and often elimination or assimilation, of ‘minorities’ within their newly independent nation-states. Whether it be tribals or linguistic or religious or ethnic minorities, the attribution of anarchy as an ontological essence to such groups serves as the alibi to sanitize the violence of nation-building along majoritarian lines in postcolonial states.

About the speaker

Sankaran Krishna is professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa in Honolulu, HI. His areas of interest include International Relations, postcolonial studies, and Indian politics. He is currently working on some papers involving caste and the making of Indian foreign policy and the concept of anarchy in the discipline of International Relations. Over the next few years, he hopes to make some serious headway on his third book project that involves race, empire and cricket.

Hilde van Meegdenburg (Leiden University Institute of Political Science) will moderate the discussion.

This event is open to the public; all are welcome.

Anna van Buerenplein, Room 2.21 (Auditorium)

Anna van Buerenplein 301
2595 DG The Hague

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