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Through a historical analysis of the crucial role played by British imperialism in the framing of the Tibet question in terms of sovereignty, suzerainty, autonomy, and independence, chapter 4 explores how sovereignty relates to the conjunction of international relations, imperialism, and Orientalism. This provides a sound basis for understanding contemporary political problems contextually and challenging the prevailing view of political problems of international standing as intractable nationalist and long-standing historical conflicts. I bring to relief the destructive/constructive role of imperialism in shaping the contemporary world (thus challenging the historical amnesia or a simplistic use of history that characterizes much of the IR scholarship).

In chapters 5 and 6 the specific case of Tibetanness (Tibetan national identity) as articulated in the diaspora will be taken up to highlight the politics of representation and thus support the case for a postcolonial critical approach to world politics. As I will argue, Exotica Tibet is an important but not an exhaustive determining factor of Tibetanness. I will examine the articulations of Tibetanness in political (chapter 5) and cultural (chapter 6) spheres, argue for new ways of theorizing these identities, and interrogate the constitutive role of Western representations in these identity discourses. In chapter 5, I highlight various dynamics of political Tibetanness and foreground the crucial role played by the poetics of Exotica Tibet. In chapter 6, I offer new ways of theorizing cultural facets of Tibetanness through an innovative postcolonial analysis of the symbolic geography of Dharamsala (the seat of the Dalai Lama-led Tibetan government-in-exile). This retheorization exemplifies ways in which postcoloniality can challenge conventional disciplinary endeavors and offer new ways of doing IR. In this sense, my endeavor is as much antidisciplinary as it is interdisciplinary. While looking at cultural and political identities separately, the chapters emphasize the intermeshing between both, thus highlighting the need for en-culturing political analysis and politicizing cultural analysis.

The conclusion sums up the arguments made in the different chapters and underlines that postcolonial IR offers an effective means to appreciate the political and productive effect of Western representational practices, especially on non-Western people. The poetics and politics of Western representations are legitimate areas of enquiry for IR not only because these support particular foreign policy regimes (as highlighted by critical IR) but also because they have a productive effect on the identities of political actors. Post-colonial IR appreciates the importance of popular culture for our understanding of world politics.

1. Postcoloniality, Representation, and World Politics

Every established order tends to produce (to very different degrees and with very different means) the naturalisation of its own arbitrariness.


Whoever studies contemporary international relations cannot but hear, behind the clash of interests and ideologies, a kind of permanent dialogue between Rousseau and Kant.



Non-Western peoples, and sometimes even states, have been ridden roughshod over both literally and figuratively in IR. One such people are the Tibetans. It is surprising that even as several critical theories have challenged the dominant IR paradigms on ontological, episte-mological, and methodological grounds in the last two decades, geographical parochialism has continued relatively unabated. My contention is that a postcolonial critical attitude, postcoloniality, offers an effective means of challenging this. The rejection of positivism (see Ashley and Walker 1990a, 1990b; Campbell 1998a, 1998b; Campbell and Dillon 1993; DerDerian and Shapiro 1989; George 1994; Lapid 1989; Shapiro 1988; Sjolander and Cox 1994; Smith et al. 1996; Walker 1993) and a reengagement with culture within IR (see Chay 1990; Lapid and Kratochwil 1996; Shapiro and Alker 1996; Weldes et al. 1999) has opened up space for a postcolonial IR endeavor. The encounter of postcolonialism with IR, that is, post-colonial international relations, is a new phenomenon [5] and remains neglected by most IR textbooks (for an exception, see Baylis and Smith 2005).


The engagement of critical IR with postcolonialism is partly an attempt to estrange the basics of IR, partly a call for dialogue and bridge building with critical discourses of IR, partly a critical review of existing critical discourses in (or at the edge of) IR, partly a call for appropriating the discursive space of IR for the play of hitherto silenced and marginalized voices, and partly an undoing of IR. It is through an interaction with non- Western context, material, and agents of knowledge that the dominant "Occidental" theories of interpretation can be challenged and redrawn (Spivak 1990, 8), and IR is no exception. This involves dealing not only with what has been spoken in IR but more importantly with what has not been said. For as Walker points out, power is often most persuasive and effective amid the silences of received wisdom (1993, 13).

IR's Parochialism

Hoffman's quote from 1965 in the epigraph, which reduces IR to a debate between two white, privileged, European males, neatly reflects the parochial character of IR. In 1985 Holsti writes that hierarchy seems "to be a hallmark of international politics and theory," and since the domination of the United States and the United Kingdom is overwhelming, IR is "a British-American intellectual condominium" (102-3). Fifteen years on, Buzan and Little point out that "there is no doubt that IR has been studied from a very Eurocentric perspective with a concomitant failure to come to terms with how non-European 'others' understood international relations or organized their world" (2000, 21). A cursory look at the literature of IR shows that there are relatively few works on issues facing the third world.

This would not be a problem had IR recognized its own narrow character and not claimed to have universal applicability. [6] International Studies Quarterly, one of the most prestigious journals in the field of IR, claimed in 2002 that it publishes "the best work being done in the variety of intellectual traditions included under the rubric of international studies," and yet articles challenging the mainstream and addressing the concerns of third world peoples are rare in it. Mainstream IR theories are Western in terms of their origin, [7] inspiration, priorities, and political biases and yet they claim to be universal (see Ling 2002).

Even when various "global" voices and dialogue are sought to be promoted (as in Rosenau 1993), the third world is either ignored [8] or spoken for by some Westerner, [9] revealing the will to universalize within IR's insular thinking. When IR scholars speak of the Cold War as a period of "long peace" (Gaddis 1987) and give reasons for "why we will soon miss the cold war" (Mearsheimer 1990), they completely ignore that "[f]or the overwhelming majority of the world's peoples, global politics since World War II has been anything but peaceful" (Klein 1994, 15). When IR scholars write about the third world in "prestigious" IR journals, they usually do so from the vantage point of the West. The West (particularly the United States; see Gibbs 2001) and its security concerns seem to dominate the IR literature. Various powerful countries see the non-West mainly as a playground for their "power politics." The realist paradigm is entrenched especially within works dealing with the third world and the "[c]onventional IR with its focus on great power politics and security, read narrowly, naturalizes… global hierarchies and thus reproduces the status quo" (Chowdhry and Nair 2002, 1). IR has, in general, not encouraged an intimate knowledge of non-Western countries. Issues central to the lives of common people in the third world have been largely marginalized and silenced in IR.


[5] For exceptions, see Agathangelou 2004; Chowdhry and Nair 2002; Darby 1997, 1998; Darby and Paolini 1994; Krishna 1993, 1999; Ling 2002; Muppidi 2004; Paolini 1999; Ramakrishnan 1999.


[6] Amin rightly argues that though Eurocentrism is anti-universalist, "it does present itself as universalist, for it claims that imitation of the Western model by all peoples is the only solution to the challenges of our time" (1988, vii).


[7] It is not surprising that Brown et al. (2002) in International Relations in Political Thought focus exclusively on the Western canon. The excuse they offer is symptomatic of IR in general. For instance, they argue that the relevant criteria for the canon can change on the basis of "current fashions" (such as the current criticism that the canon usually consists of white male Europeans), but this should not deny the "fact" that some "thinkers clearly have produced more significant work than others" (3) (not surprisingly, these are the same as the canonical thinkers). This seems to be a dismissive gesture of relegating those who challenge the Eurocentrism and misogyny of the Western canon as "current fashion."

Brown et al. go on to argue that the "modern global international order developed out of the European states-system, which emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth century CE from the wreckage of the medieval order which was constructed on the ruins of the Roman empire, in turn the product of the Roman republic and the inheritor of the thought of classical Greece" (14). This buys into the dominant autobiography of modern Western thinking. It misses the crucial constitutive role of the "rest of the world" in the change from the medieval to the modern period. Ironically, the editors stop at the gate of classical Greeks-once again ignoring the question of where the Greeks came from. In such stories, classical Greeks seem to have descended from "heaven," without "impure" influences of nearby cultures, especially the Egyptians (cf. Bernal 1987, 1991). My argument is not against a compilation of the writings of Western political thinkers but against passing it off as global/international thought.


[8] The justification Rosenau provides for ignoring "Third world analysts" is "space limitations." But this does not lead him to title the book as Western Voices instead of Global Voices. On the other hand, Waever (1998) is conscious of his noninvestigation of non-Western cases and does not conflate "American and European developments in international relations" with wider global developments.


[9] Sylvester not only includes a "Western feminist (Westfem)" but also ventriloquizes for "Her Third World Alter Ego/Identity (Tsitsi)" (Sylvester 1993; see also Agathangelou and Ling 2004).