Philosophy and International Relations: Seminar, LG1/223, Monday 14:00-16:00 hour (c.t.)

The thoughts and works of philosophers have affected and continue to affect to a great degree theoretical, empirical, sociological and historical scholarship and research in International Relations (IR). Scholars and students alike in IR often encounter in their studies of questions of war, peace, power, culture, language, time, and governance, the thoughts of various philosophers, such as Thucydides, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Smith, Bentham, Mill, Gramsci, Nietzsche, Arendt, Wittgenstein, and so on. This course explores the thought and works of three twentieth century philosophers who greatly affected the theoretical paradigm of post-structuralism in IR. These three philosophers concern Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and Jacque Derrida. IR scholars that were inspired by their works and thoughts triggered in the early 1990s the third great debate in the field, whose effects continue to reverberate as it changed the landscape of the discipline of IR into one that is not only more critical and reflexive, but also plural and normative. This course introduces the thoughts of these philosophers to students and seeks to familiarize them with the concepts that Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida developed. Next to reading the works of these philosophers, the course also reflects on how the thoughts of Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida can be employed in the study of questions such as war, peace, power, culture, language, time, and governance in IR. This course is suitable for students that are interested in philosophy and do not shy away from reading (hefty) philosophical treatises. The requirements for entry in this course is the successful completion of the courses International Relations 1 and 2

The Politics of the Middle East : Seminar, LG1/333, Tuesday 12:00-14:00 hour (c.t.)

The contemporary politics of the Middle East, characterized by wars, revolutions, intervention of foreign powers, humanitarian crises, rivalry and conflicts between states across religious, ideological and political lines, and the proliferation of various terrorist groups such as the Islamic State dominates the daily news. This course introduces the political, economical and cultural history of the Middle East in order to enable the student to understand and analyze the contemporary politics of this geostrategically significant region of the world where developments and changes have global political repercussions as they affect in various ways the politics of states and societies in other parts of the world. As the aim of this course is to enable students to understand and analyze the contemporary politics of the Middle East, this course is in terms of the topics that it addresses broad in scope. The course first starts with a reflection on what constitutes the Middle East, how it has been studied and how the way in which some scholars, but certainly journalists, policy-makers and think tank pundits have approached and studied the Middle East has resulted in simplistic analysis and narratives. Following this reflection and understanding, the following topics and dimensions of the politics of the Middle East are covered in this course: the history of the emergence of Middle Eastern states, nationalism and nation-building, the political economy of the Middle East, the relationship between religion and politics, the wars and conflicts in the Middle East, the various political systems of Middle Eastern states, the prospects for democratization in the region, the role of women and ethnic minorities in politics, and finally contemporary salient developments in the region. Since this course has an introductory character, it does not assume that students have background knowledge about the politics of the Middle East. Consequently, this course is suitable for students with various levels of background knowledge about the region’s politics. 

Theories of International Relations from the Global South: Seminar, LG1/333, Tuesday 12:00-14:00 hour (c.t.)

Theories of International Relations (IR), such as Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, Constructivism, the English School, etc. frame the empirical analysis of scholars regarding events in international politics and therefore affect the explanation of the nature and types of interactions between and among states, inter-governmental, non-governmental organizations and societies. Consequently, theories as analytical explanatory frameworks for the analysis of global political and economic events occupy a central position in the study of international relations. In recent decades scholars have argued in the discipline of IR that its theories are Eurocentric and privilege Western concepts, ideas and practices through which the unequal relationship of power between the West and the non-West is not only further reinforced, but that these theories also fail as analytical tools to explain the different empirical conditions and realities in other parts of the world. In short, what has been argued is that ‘Western’ IR theories and concepts distort the analysis of the politics, practices and histories of the non-West, while their hegemonic dominance in academia exclude the possibilities for different concepts, ideas and thoughts from other parts of the world. This course explores these issues. Part one of the course first focuses on the problem at hand that has been identified by a number of scholars. This concerns the Eurocentrism of International Relations Theory (IRT). It then proceeds to explore the calls that have been made for non-Western IRT and the strategies that have been proposed for its inclusion and development. Part two of the course explores the possibilities for the development and inclusion of non-Western IRT and the problems that are fraught in such an endeavor. Finally, in part three of the course IRT across the globe is perused through a focus on scholarship coming from or based upon different regions in the world as representatives of non-Western thought, concepts or theories in and/or of IR.