chapter  5
31 Pages

Inquiring into the international in security

Studying security in a world characterised by multiple inequalities and differences entails reflecting on others’ conceptions of the international. However, as we saw in Chapter 3, accessing others’ conceptions of the international has turned out to be a challenge for students of International Relations. Those who sought to locate others’ conceptions of the international in their IR scholarship found ‘similarity’ and were disenchanted in their efforts. Those who turned to texts and contexts outside IR and/or North America and Western Europe found ‘difference’, yet their findings have yet to be fully integrated into our theorising about IR and security. Chapter 4 offered one way of turning ‘similarity’ into a research agenda, by reading others’ IR scholarship as an aspect of world politics (and not only as an attempt to explain or understand world politics). More specifically, I suggested that others’ IR scholarship could be read as responding to insecurities experienced in a world that is already worlded by IR. This, I called, ‘security in the international’. In doing so, I offered an answer to one of the two questions that the book set out to respond to: How is it that IR scholarship in other parts of the world does not reflect the kind of ‘difference’ found in texts and contexts outside IR and/or the ‘West’, but adopts those ‘standard’ concepts of the field, notwithstanding their well-known limits? Chapter 5 responds to the other question that the book began with: How to

think about security in a world characterised by a multiplicity of inequalities and differences. By reflecting on others’ conceptions of the international as we study security, I answer. Inquiring into ‘the international in security’ is about locating others’ conceptions of the international in their ‘discourses of danger’ (Campbell, 1992). As such, I do not search for others’ conceptions of the international by travelling elsewhere (see Chapter 3) with a view to injecting that into the study of security afterwards. Rather, I draw upon postcolonial studies to gain insight into the insecurities of those who are caught up in hierarchies that were built and sustained during the age of colonialism and beyond. The chapter proceeds in the following manner. In the first section, I draw on

postcolonial scholarship on India’s nuclear (weapons) programme to tease out India’s leaders’ conceptions of the international as reflected in their ‘discourses of danger’. In the second section, I suggest that studying others’ ‘discourses of danger’ as such allows the students of IR to go beyond surface understandings

of the postcolonial becoming ‘almost the same but not quite’ as mere imitation, but consider it as a response to insecurities shaped by (and shaping) their conception of the international. I term this conception of the international as ‘hierarchy in anarchical society’, capturing the anarchical, societal and hierarchical aspects of the international. The third section offers an illustration in my reading of Turkey’s secularisation as part of an attempt to address the insecurities the country’s early twentieth-century leadership experienced in their encounters with the international society.