chapter  4
22 Pages

Inquiring into security in the international

What do I mean by inquiring into security in the international? Is not the conception of the international in mainstream approaches already about security – more precisely about anarchy as the condition, and constant vigilance against threats to ‘national security’ as the solution? Yes and no. Yes, mainstream IR’s conception of the international is shaped around a particular conception of security. No, because this is a particular conception of security. As laid out in Chapters 1 and 2, students of IR and Security Studies have seldom inquired into others’ conceptions of the international and security, or reflected on the particularity of their own conceptions. Yet, as discussed in Chapter 3, notwithstanding the well-known limits of our theorising about IR and security and the availability of alternatives, ‘standard’ concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘national security’ persist in IR scholarship around the world. Chapter 4 suggests that if others’ IR scholarship does not reflect the ‘differences’

as found in texts and contexts found outside North America and Western Europe, we could take this as the beginning of our analysis and inquire into security in the international. Rather than, that is, explaining away such ‘similarity’ as a confirmation of the claim to ‘universality’ on the part of mainstream IR, or as evidence of the periphery’s ‘unthinking emulation’ of the core. More specifically, I propose that we begin by reading others’ IR scholarship as responding to a world that is already worlded. Worlding IR would allow us to understand how others’ insecurities, experienced in a world that is already worlded, have shaped (and have been shaped by) their conceptions of the international. Before offering my own answer, in the first section I discuss two other

explanations as to why ‘standard’ concepts and theories of IR may have persisted outside North America and Western Europe. In the second section, I begin building my own answer by highlighting two different understandings of ‘worlding’, and call for worlding IR in its twofold meaning – that is, reflecting on the geo-cultural situatedness of IR scholarship (worlding-as-situatedness) and inquiring into how IR has worlded the world (worlding-as-constitutive). The third section submits that the persistence of ‘standard’ concepts and theories of IR outside North America and Western Europe (notwithstanding their wellknown limits and the availability of alternatives) could be understood as a way of doing IR in a seemingly ‘similar’ but unexpectedly ‘different’ way. Where

worlding IR outside North America and Western Europe reveals it to be ‘almost the same but not quite’ (to invoke Homi K. Bhabha’s turn of phrase), a close reading of IR scholarship produced in such contexts offers insight into insecurities that have shaped (and are being shaped by) others’ conceptions of the international.