Stephen Hobden
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Avoiding the ‘big hole with a lot of dead people in it’
in Critical theory and international relations
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This chapter the focuses on the political projects that emerge from the critical approaches discussed in the book. Frankfurt School inspired critical theorists within International Relations have focused on the notion of ‘emancipation’. However, this is a very problematic term – who gets to decide what emancipation is, and how do we move from the situation that we are in to an emancipated one? Poststructuralists have been particularly wary of the term ‘emancipation’ suggesting that emancipatory projects inevitably involve replacing one set of oppressive relations with another. The focus for poststructuralist thinkers is on revealing power relations and ‘resistance’. Does this however imply ultimately a nihilistic perspective and the abandonment of any hope of a more progressive world order? The priority for posthumanists is a rethinking of relations between human and non-human nature. This re-thinking can be viewed in a self-interested way; in order to maintain a survivable environment for humans on the planet. Alternatively it can be understood as an attempt to reduce the level of suffering that humans impose on the life with which we share the planet.

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Critical theory and international relations

Knowledge, power and practice


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