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


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?

In rebrushing your knowledge of key debates, the course aims to raise the level of sophistication of your understanding of the disagreements that are central to the field, beginning with the question of (post)colonialism. 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.

The course will begin with a brief introductory part, whose purpose is to ensure familiarity with (or remind of) the evolution and layout of the field of IR. If you lack the necessary background you should pay particular attention to the key readings.

We will then 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.

Course format: As the course proceeds, frontal lecturing will be gradually replaced by collectively engaging readings and through informal discussion. Active student participation is vital.

Assessment: Class presentation discussing in-depth middle range theory that is relevant 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 instructor). Each presentation will have a designated discussant among class participants.


Session 1

January 17, 10.00-13hrs

What is IR theory, why theorizing IR?


 Recommended (depending on your IR theory background)

  • Scott Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations. London: Palgrave, 2013 (especially chapter 1, and chapters 2-9).

Session 2

January 26, 10.30-13.30

Guest lecturer: Maria Mälksoo

War in Ukraine: a postcolonial perspective


  •          Mälksoo, Maria. "The Postcolonial Moment in Russia’s War Against Ukraine." Journal of Genocide Research (2022): 1-11.
  •          Khromeychuk, Olga. (2022). Where is Ukraine?: How a western outlook perpetuates myths about Europe’s largest country. RSA Journal, 27–31.
  •          Yermolenko, Volodymyr. "Atypical Post-Colonialism: Ukraine in Global Political Thought." Ukraine Analytica 02 (24) (2021): 19-25.


  •          Pavlova, Elena. "The EU-Russia relationship through the lens of postcolonial theory." The Routledge Handbook of EU-Russia Relations (2021): 139-148.
  •          Strazzari, Francesco, Frontiera ucraina. Guerra, geopolitiche e ordine internazionale. Il Mulino 2022.

Session 3

January 31, 10-13 hrs

The historical comparative sociology angle

Required readings

  •          Scott Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations. London: Palgrave, 2013, chapter 6 on Comparative Historical Sociology
  •          Bayly, Martin J. "Imperialism: Beyond the ‘re-turn to empire’ in International Relations." Routledge Handbook of Historical International Relations. Routledge, 2021. 355-367.
  •          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 4

February 7 – 10-13 hrs

Introducing postcolonial perspectives in social sciences

  •          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 5

February 14, 10-13 hrs

Postcolonial IR? 

Required readings

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hwang, Yih-Jye. "Reappraising the Chinese school of international relations: a postcolonial perspective." Review of International Studies 47.3 (2021): 311-330.
  • Seth, S. (2011). Postcolonial theory and the critique of international relations. Millennium40(1), 167-183.
  • Seth, Sanjay. "International relations: plural or postcolonial?." International Politics Reviews 9.2 (2021): 301-305.


  • Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations, chapter 12.
  • 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

February 21, 10-13hrs

Decolonizing IR


  • Jones, Branwen Gruffydd, ed. Decolonizing international relations. Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
  • Merschel, Oliver, et al. "Global International Relations." Center for Sustainable Science Research Working Paper No (2022).
  • Sharma, Ananya. "Decolonizing international relations: Confronting erasures through Indigenous knowledge systems." International Studies 58.1 (2021): 25-40
  • Sadiq, Kamal, and Gerasimos Tsourapas. "The postcolonial migration state." European Journal of International Relations 27.3 (2021): 884-912.
  • Picq, Manuela Lavinas. "Critics at the edge? Decolonizing methodologies in International Relations." International Political Science Review 34.4 (2013): 444-455.
  • Ling, Lily HM. "Decolonizing the international: Towards multiple emotional worlds." IT 6 (2014): 579


NB This is the deadline for uploading your reaction paper or short research paper on a theme that has to be agreed upon

Session 7

February 28 – 10-12 hrs

Class discussion

Obiettivi formativi

The first objective of this course is to offer a critical overview of the field of International Relations and its most important findings and debates, beginning with questioning foundational narratives. Basic knowledge of theories of international relations and the texts and authors which define the field is expected as a prerequisite.