Postcolonialism and International Relations

Periodo di svolgimento
Info sul corso
Ore del corso
Ore dei docenti responsabili
Ore di didattica integrativa

Modalità esame

Relazione di seminario


Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"



What are the lasting and detrimental impacts of colonialism on processes of state-formation and state- society relations today? What is the postcolonial and what does decolonization mean? What are pros and cons of postcolonial theory, and how does it help understand existing international hierarchies? Do we need a postcolonial angle to understand reactions to 9/11, the Coronavirus pandemic or war in Ukraine?

The course will blend together and examine different islands of theory, engaging comparative historical sociology, critical race theory, and more specifically, the contribution that postcolonial studies make to political science, to the study of international politics and IR theorising. In doing so, the course proceeds as a work in progress, soliciting new contributions and the sharing of documents and ideas from all participants. Guest lecturers may intervene either in person or via videoconference, and open windows on ongoing debates and perspectives that within the field.

As the course proceeds, frontal lecturing will be gradually replaced by collectively engaging readings and through informal discussion. Active student participation is vital. The last session is devoted to discussing each other’s written contributions and reactions.

Assessment: Class participation, and the submission of a written essay: a short research paper with some in-depth middle range theory that is relevant to your research project, or – alternatively – a short reaction paper to one of the readings discussed during the course (to be agreed upon with the professor). Each submission will have a designated discussant among class participants.

Obiettivi formativi

Learning Objectives

The first objective of the course is to offer a brief critical overview of the field of International Relations through a reconsideration of the ‘shadow of empire’ and the colonial legacy. Basic knowledge of theories of international relations and the texts and authors which define the field is expected. You should have some basic knowledge of key debates and disagreements in IR theorizing. Responsibility is placed on the participant to come prepared. Specifically, coming into this course, you should already be familiar with the basic arguments and the main proponents of the main theories in International Relations; at a minimum you need to be able to explain in your own words the meaning of such labels as realism, neo-realism, liberalism, constructivism, and world-systems theory.

Most importantly, the course aims to sharpen your knowledge of the various points of contact between international relations and the postcolonial critique, through an analysis of different aspects of contemporary politics that are relevant to your research.