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The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics
Western International Theory, 1760–2010


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  • Date Published: March 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107604544

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About the Authors
  • John Hobson claims that throughout its history most international theory has been embedded within various forms of Eurocentrism. Rather than producing value-free and universalist theories of inter-state relations, international theory instead provides provincial analyses that celebrate and defend Western civilization as the subject of, and ideal normative referent in, world politics. Hobson also provides a sympathetic critique of Edward Said's conceptions of Eurocentrism and Orientalism, revealing how Eurocentrism takes different forms, which can be imperialist or anti-imperialist, and showing how these have played out in international theory since 1760. The book thus speaks to scholars of international relations and also to all those interested in understanding Eurocentrism in the disciplines of political science/political theory, political economy/international political economy, geography, cultural and literary studies, sociology and, not least, anthropology.

    • Provides a thorough history of the development of ideas in international relations over 250 years
    • A provocative argument that ideas in international relations are not objective and scientific, but assume the superiority of Western civilization
    • Contributes to debates about Edward Said's views on Orientalism across the humanities and social sciences
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    • Honourable Mention, 2013 Francesco Guiccardini Prize, Historical International Relations Section (HIST), International Studies Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Hobson's powerful indictment that international theory merely constructs a Eurocentric conception of world politics represents a significant challenge to theorists both of mainstream and critical persuasions. In light of the broad intellectual history that Hobson provides, this book will be of immense interest to a diverse audience of readers.' Brian C. Schmidt, Carleton University

    'A masterful and provocative history of Western International Theory that challenges IR scholars to be sensitive to the Eurocentric biases of their intellectual heritage. This important and carefully reasoned book is a call to all of us to re-examine the moral and ethical implications of our research.' J. Ann Tickner, University of Southern California

    'John M. Hobson's ambitious, searching, and wide-ranging critique of a long line of thinkers - from Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, to Hans Morgenthau - whose writings gave Western International Theory its current shape, is a tour de force. Not only does Hobson point up the persistently Eurocentric organization of the field, he also succeeds in making careful and important distinctions between varieties of Orientalism and Eurocentrism that are usually missing from contemporary analyses. All students of 'world politics' will benefit from this book that represents one of the finest contributions to date to postcolonial studies of international theory.' Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

    '[Hobson's] book will be necessary reading for all those interested in IR.' Patrick Chabal, International Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107604544
    • length: 406 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 155 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: constructing Eurocentrism and international theory as Eurocentric construct
    Part I. 1760–1914: Manifest Eurocentrism and Scientific Racism in International Theory:
    2. Eurocentric imperialism: liberalism and Marxism, c.1830–1914
    3. Eurocentric anti-imperialism: liberalism, c.1760–1800
    4. Racist anti-imperialism: liberalism and cultural-realism, c.1850–1914
    5. Racist imperialism: 'racist-realism', liberalism, and socialism, c.1860–1914
    Part II. 1914–1945: Manifest/Subliminal Eurocentrism and the High Tide of Scientific Racism in International Theory:
    6. Anti-imperialism and the myths of 1919: Eurocentric Marxism and racist cultural-realism, 1914–1945
    7. Racist and Eurocentric imperialism: racist-realism, racist-liberalism, and 'progressive' Eurocentric liberalism/Fabianism, 1914–1945
    Part III. 1945–1989: Subliminal Eurocentrism in International Theory:
    8. Orthodox subliminal Eurocentrism: from classical realism to neorealism, 1945–1989
    9. Orthodox subliminal Eurocentrism: neo-liberal institutionalism and the English school, c.1966–1989
    10. Critical subliminal Eurocentrism: Gramscianism and world-systems theory, c.1967–1989
    Part IV. 1989–2010: Back to the Future of Manifest Eurocentrism in Mainstream International Theory:
    11. Imperialist and anti-imperialist Eurocentrism: post-1989 'Western-realism' and the spiritual return to post-1889 racist-realism
    12. Imperialist Eurocentrism: post-1989 'Western-liberalism' and the return to post-1830 liberal paternalist Eurocentrism
    Part V. Conclusion: Mapping the Promiscuous Architecture of Eurocentrism in International Theory, 1760–2010:
    13. Constructing civilization: global hierarchy, 'gradated sovereignty' and globalization in international theory, 1760–2010

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Comparative Approaches to Area Studies & World Politics
    • International Politics of the Middle East
    • Rethinking Global Politics
  • Author

    John M. Hobson, University of Sheffield
    John M. Hobson is Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield. His publications include Everyday Politics of the World Economy (2007), co-edited with Leonard Seabrooke; The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (2004); Historical Sociology of International Relations (2002), co-edited with Steve Hobden and The State and International Relations (2000).


    • Honourable Mention, 2013 Francesco Guiccardini Prize, Historical International Relations Section (HIST), International Studies Association

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