Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century by Scarlett Cornelissen

By Scarlett Cornelissen

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There have been shifts – and, some would argue, progress – within the discipline, as the results of the recent Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey conducted in 2008 show. , 2009, p. 8) and that there is clear movement away from the major theoretical paradigms both within and outside the American academy. The notion of an unrivalled American hegemony in the field (as was argued by Smith in 2002) is therefore 21 22 Reconceptualizing Authority and Sovereignty challenged, also in relation to the subfield of International Political Economy (IPE), which is being counterbalanced by the British School (see Cohen, 2008; Higgott and Watson, 2008).

The contributions in this volume The contributions in this volume take as their point of departure the inadequacy of the analytical equipment provided by established IR theory in capturing and explaining shifting processes on the continent. Scarlett Cornelissen, Fantu Cheru and Timothy M. Shaw 13 Indeed, to the extent that Africa has been incorporated into IR theory, it has been so in a way that has disconnected several connected realities. Lemke (2003) and Brown (2006) question whether contemporary ‘African’ IR is different and, if so, whether it presents challenges and changes for the comparative field of IR elsewhere.

Xi–xiv). Moreover, Africa’s diversity offers an escape from the many analytical, conceptual and empirical challenges facing the IR field. Taking African IR seriously can, at a minimum, help IR scholars avoid circular reasoning: that is, testing theories against the very historical cases from which they were extrapolated. As Moravcsik (1998) insightfully noted, circular reasoning is endemic in IR scholarship. So why does Africa remain marginalized, and why are African experiences and events deemed intellectually insignificant in the IR community?

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