How not to Globalise IR: ‘Centre’ and ‘Periphery’ as Constitutive of ‘the International’ - Pinar BILGIN



Scholars who adopted de-centring as a strategy for globalising IR have embraced the notions of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ to highlight structural inequalities between North America and Western Europe and the rest of the world in the production of knowledge about world politics. In doing so, however, de-centring IR scholarship has portrayed the ‘periphery’ as if it is a new entrant to the ‘international’. Yet, such a presumption is not in the spirit of globalising IR, which views the periphery as the ‘constitutive outside’. By re-visiting the 1970s’ centre-periphery approaches, the paper highlights the limitations of the de-centring approaches insofar as they have not always been attentive to the critical concerns of earlier theorisations about ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, and underscores the need for studying the periphery as ‘constitutive outside’. The periphery is ‘outside’ by virtue of having been left out of those mainstream narratives that the centre tells about the international; it is also ‘constitutive’ because those ideas, practices, and institutions that are typically ascribed to the ‘centre’ have been co-constituted by centre and periphery in toto.

Keywords: Center, Periphery, Constitutive Outside, Decentering IR, Global IR


* Prof. Dr., Bilkent University, Department of International Relations