Hierarchies in/of World Politics

Course Description: 

The course should be of interest to those who think, or have a feeling, that our neoliberal world is not, or should not be, the unsurpassable horizon of thinking and acting. At the same time, it should also be of interest to those who think with Hegel and Fukuyama that humankind’s ideological development has come to an end with liberal market societies, but who understand that this does not mean an end to history. History always throws up new problems and challenges, and we cannot expect to solve them if we are stuck in the intellectual clearing that we inhabit and that encloses us. We will need to break out from these beaten paths and think new and variegated ideas to be in a position to solve the new problems of the future.

The course aims at familiarising students with: the thought of key (canonical) figures in the fight against colonialism; the historiography of the subaltern school and their critics; the violence in and of primitive and contemporary capital accumulation in peripheries of the world economy; various aspects of neo-colonial global governance – from proletarianisation to surveillance, biopolitical differentiations of life and war; gradations of ontological insecurity in the contemporary world; the despotism in liberal reason and neoliberal practice; the everyday in and against development; the production of human waste in globalised capitalism & its symbolic and material effects; gendered inequalities in the contemporary world; the enduring epistemic violence of coloniality; and efforts at provincializing IR theory. 

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course the students will:

-  be familiar with major themes, concerns, concepts, epistemologies, methodologies in diverse critical approaches aimed at unsettling states of inequality;

-  have enlarged their conceptual and methodological repertoire for analysing relations of power;

-  have acquired the intellectual means to detect relations of inequality in the most unsuspecting places and spaces;

-  be able to critically evaluate (broadly defined) postcolonial inflections of critical engagements with power hierarchies;

-  have learned to situate their own research in relation to the discussed themes, concerns, concepts and so on;


Each student will be assessed through a combination of seminar contributions, oral presentations, written work and, possibly, an exam.

 The final grade is made up of the following components:

  1. Seminar attendance (mandatory) and participation (20%).
  2. Seminar presentation of assigned texts (20%). Students are expected to give a 20 minute presentations on one of the seminar readings. Presentation guidelines are posted on the e-learning site.
  3. Within 2 weeks of the oral presentation, students have to submit a written position paper of about 2000 words on their readings (30%).
  4. Final Exam and/or term paper (30%)
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