Postcolonialism and International Relations

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

Modalità esame

Prova orale


Francesco Strazzari


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?

**** Structure, Calendar and Readings *****

The course is introduced by two sessions that aim to ensure familiarity with (or remind of) the evolution and layout of the field of IR - then it will procede by focusing on postcolonial perspectives. Guest lecturers will intervene either in person or via videoconference, and open windows on ongoing debates and perspectives that within the field. If you lack the necessary background you should pay particular attention to the key readings: do come to class prepared.

At the end of the course you will discuss in class your presentation on a topic (middle range theorsing?) that is relevant to your research project, or – alternatively – a short reaction paper to one of the readings discussed during the course. Each presentation will have a designated discussant among class participants.

Session 1

 November 3, 14.30hrs 

What is IR theory, why theorizing IR?

 Required readings

  • Scott Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations. London: Palgrave, 2013, especially chapter 1  (and chapters 2-9, depending on your background in IR theory).



Session 2

Nov 9, 14.30hrs 

The historical comparative sociology perspective. 

Required readings

  •  Scott Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations. London: Palgrave, 2013, chapter 6 on Comparative Historical Sociology
  • Thakur, Vineet, and Karen Smith. "Introduction to the Special Issue: The multiple births of International Relations." Review of International Studies (2021): 1-9.
  •  Steinmetz, George. "The sociology of empires, colonies, and postcolonialism." Annual Review of Sociology 40 (2014): 77-103.        
  • Leander, Anna. "Wars and the un-making of states: taking Tilly seriously in the contemporary world." Contemporary security analysis and Copenhagen peace research. Routledge, 2003. 85-96


  • Latour, B., 2004. Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Critical Inquiry 30(2).
  • Bevir, M., Daddow, O., Hall, I., 2014. Interpreting global security. In: Bevir, M., Daddow, O., Hall, I. (eds.) Interpreting Global Security. London: Routelegde.


Session 3

Nov 16, 14.30

Introducing postcolonial perspectives

  •  Khalili, Laleh, 2013. Time in the Shadows. Confinement in Counterinsurgencies, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Selection: Introduction, pp. 1-10.
  •  Go, Julian, 2016. Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory, Oxford: Oxford UP, Selection: Introduction “Social Theory beyond Empire?”, pp. 1-17. 
  •  Wolfe, Ross, 2017. “Dialectics and Difference: Against the ‘Decolonial Turn’”, Insurgent Notes, Issue 8 (12 pages).
  •  Stoler Ann Laura, 2017. Duress. Imperial Durabilities in Our Times. Durham & London: Duke University Press. “Imperial Debris and Ruination”, pp. 336-379. 



  • WILLIAMS Patrick and Laura CHRISMAN (eds), 1994. Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory. A Reader, New York: Columbia University Press. Introduction, pp. 1-18.
  • FANON Frantz, 1952, Black Skin, White Masks, London: Grove Press, Ch.1 “The Negro and Language” and Ch. 4 “The So-called Dependency Complex” pp. pp.1-23, and 64-88. Optional: Ch. 5 “The fact of Blackness”, pp. 89-119.
  • CHALLAND Benoit, 2017. “Citizenship and Violence in the Arab Worlds. A Historical Sketch”, in Bryan S. Turner and Jürgen Mackert (eds.), The Transformation of Citizenship, Vol. 3: Struggle, Resistance and Violence, London: Routledge, pp. 93-112.
  • THOMAS Martin, 2015. Violence and Colonial Order: Police, Workers and Protests in the European Colonial Empires, 1918-1940, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Introduction, Ch. 5 “Policing Tunisia: Mineworkers, fellahs and nationalist protests”, pp. 1-13, and 114-140.
  • CHOI Sung, 2016. “14. French Algeria 1830-1962”, in: CAVANAGH Edward (ed), The Routledge Handbook of the History of Settler Colonialism, London: Routledge, pp. 201-212.


Session 4

Nov 23 – 14.30hrs

Special session: postcolonial dimensions in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Readings TBA


Session 5 

Nov 30, 14.30

Postcolonial perspectives and IR 

Required readings

  • Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations, chapter 12.
  • Salter, Mark B. "Edward Said and post-colonial international relations." International relations theory and philosophy: interpretive dialogues 80 (2010): 129
  • Shani, G. (2008). Toward a Post-Western IR: The Umma, Khalsa Panth, and Critical International Relations Theory. International Studies Review10(4), 722-734.
  • Buzan, B., & Acharya, A. (2009). Why is there no non-Western international relations theory? An introduction. In Non-Western International Relations Theory (pp. 11-35). Routledge.
  • Seth, S. (2011). Postcolonial theory and the critique of international relations. Millennium40(1), 167-183.


  • Chowdhry, Geeta. "Edward Said and contrapuntal reading: Implications for critical interventions in international relations." Millennium 36.1 (2007): 101-116.
  • Chowdhry, Geeta, and Sheila Nair. "Introduction: Power in a postcolonial world: Race, gender, and class in international relations." Power, postcolonialism and international relations: Reading race, gender and classTaylor and Francis, 2003. 1-32.
  • Owen, C., Heathershaw, J., & Savin, I. (2018). How postcolonial is post-Western IR? Mimicry and mētis in the international politics of Russia and Central Asia. Review of International Studies, 44(2), 279-300. doi:10.1017/S0260210517000523



Session 6

Dec 14, 14.30hrs

Class presentations


Session 7 

Dec 15 – 10.30hrs 

Class presentations


Session 8 

Dec 15 – 14.30hrs

Decolonizing IR


  • Jones, Branwen Gruffydd, ed. Decolonizing international relationsRowman & Littlefield, 2006.
  • Ling, Lily HM. "Decolonizing the international: Towards multiple emotional worlds." IT 6 (2014): 579
  • Nayak, D. M., & Selbin, E. (2013). Decentering international relations. Zed Books Ltd.. - chapter 1
  • Bottici, Chiara and Benoit Challand: Europe aftert Eurocentrism? CrisisCritique 2020,
  • Picq, Manuela Lavinas. "Critics at the edge? Decolonizing methodologies in International Relations." International Political Science Review 34.4 (2013): 444-455.

Obiettivi formativi

The main objective of the course is allow participant to critically explore the field of International Relations and its most important findings and debates. The course aims to rebrush your knowledge of key debates and raise the level of sophistication of your understanding of the disagreements that are central to the field, beginning with the question of the (post)colonialism and the relevance of race and related constructs. This is an advanced course: 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.