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The end of the Cold War, the emergence of nonWestern states as influential actors in global politics, and waves of Western nativism in the United States and Europe have placed questions of cultural diversity centrally in global politics. Although the mainstream paradigms of international relations (IR), namely, realism and liberalism, have remained focused on material power and mutual gains via institutions as the cruxes of global politics, starting with the mid-1990s, an increasing number of IR scholars have attended to the question of cultural diversity and world politics. This scholarship has approached culture, alternatively, as a set of shared meanings stable over time, meanings that are institutionally stabilized, or a field of multiple and competing representations. Accordingly, some (the English school, conventional constructivism) posit culture as internally coherent and externally diverse, associating shared culture with accord and cultural diversity with discord. Others (critical constructivism, postcolonial IR) focus on the power-laden processes through which cultural diversity comes to be associated with Otherness and discord. Most of the relevant scholarship, however, defies paradigmatic categorization. These works are better grouped as interventions into IR theory and as scholarship that focuses on the impact of cultural diversity on the conduct of world politics. The first set of interventions have identified the state of cultural diversity in IR theorizing as an absence, a deep suspicion and an active suppression, or an outdated conceptualization. The IR theoretical path forward has, accordingly, been identified as the inclusion of culture, as dispensing with key theoretical heuristics of the field, or as a new focus on how cultural diversity has been globally governed. The analyses of cultural diversity and the conduct of world politics, taken together, show the intricate connections between existing institutions and norms, and assertions of cultural diversity. While diversity challenges universalizing forms of governance, the demands for the equal recognition of diversity are shaped by existing institutions. Despite key theoretical and analytical insights, the scholarship on cultural diversity can pay further attention to (a) the relation between theoretical notions of cultural diversity and cultural diversity as employed in global politics and (b) the relation between cultural diversity and other global political domains, such as geopolitics. On this, the literature can benefit from engagement with the IR scholarship on civilizations. At the same time, the latter scholarship is highly relevant to the question at hand because civilizations are key conduits of the global politics of cultural diversity.

Article

Postcolonial feminism in international relations (PFIR) is a disciplinary field devoted to the study of world politics as a site of power relations shaped by colonization. PFIR combines postcolonial and feminist insights to explore questions such as how the stratum of elite power intersects with subterranean layers of colonization to produce our contemporary world politics; how these interrelationships between race, gender, sex, and class inform matrices of power in world politics; and how we account for elite and subaltern agency and resistance to the hegemonic sphere of world politics. PFIR is similar to Marxism, constructivism, and postmodernism in that they all posit that the masses underwrite hegemonic rule and, in so doing, ultimately have the means to do away with it. One difference is that PFIR emanates from the position of the subaltern; more specifically, the colonized’s colonized such as women, children, the illiterate, the poor, the landless, and the voiceless. Three major components are involved in PFIR in its analysis of world politics: culture, politics, and material structures. Also, eight common foci emerge in PFIR: intersectionality, representation, and power; materiality; relationality; multiplicity; intersubjectivity; contrapuntality; complicity; and resistance and accountability. PFIR gives rise to two interrelated projects: an empirical inquiry into the construction and exercise of power in daily life, and theory building that reflects this empirical base. A future challenge for PFIR is to elucidate how we can transform, not just alleviate, the hegemonies that persist around the world.

Article

Sixteenth-century Europe saw the emergence of a modern project that soon spread to other parts of the globe through conquest, colonization and imperialism, and finally globalization. In its historical development, modernity has radically remade the institutional and organizational structures of many traditional societies worldwide. It followed two distinct trajectories: the transformation of traditional societies within Western cultures, on the one hand, and the implementation of modernity in non-Western cultures, on the other. The emergence and development of modernity can be explained using three interrelated domains: ideology, politics, and economy. Enlightenment thinking constituted the ideological background of modernity, while the rise of individualism and the secularization of political power reflected its political dimension. The economic dimension of modernity involved the massive mobility of people into cities and the emergence of a market economy through the commercialization of human labor, along with production for profit. The recent phase of globalization has led to new developments that exposed the contradictions of modernity and forced us to rethink its fundamental assumptions. Two approaches that have attempted to redefine the universality in modern thinking and its relationship with particular cultures are the institutional cosmopolitanism approach and the multiple modernities approach; the latter rejects the universality of Western modernity and instead sees modernity as a distinctly local phenomenon. Future research should focus on how different cultures relate to one another within the boundaries of global modernity, along with the conditions under which local forms of modernity emerge.

Article

Michael Lusztig, Athanasios Hristoulas, and David Skidmore

The dynamics of foreign policy making in the United States, Mexico, and Canada—the three countries that make up North America—has been influenced by political geography, political culture, and state–society relations. The combination of these three factors helps to explain America’s slow emergence as a great power, its unique brand of civic nationalism, the moralistic terms in which the aims of U.S. foreign policy are often cast, the lack of consistency in American diplomacy, and the hesitation the United States has often shown about accepting or adhering to multilateral commitments. For Mexico and Canada, the proximity of the United States has fundamentally shaped their external relations whether as a force of repulsion or a source of attraction. For much of the past century, Mexican foreign policy treaded a path of resistance to U.S. domination, driven by the political traditions of nationalism, populism, and anti-imperialism. In the case of Canada, it has also at times sought greater independence from the United States through economic nationalism while also carving out a distinctive foreign policy identity as a liberal and idealistic middle power. In the second half of the twentieth century, Canada cycled through four somewhat distinctive eras of foreign policy: the liberal internationalism of the 1940s to 1968; the left nationalism of the Trudeau era; Brian Mulroney’s commitment to continentalism; and Jean Chrétien’s renewed commitment to left nationalism that has ruined cross-border relations and diminished Canada’s relevance in Washington.

Article

James M. Goldgeier

Decision makers, acting singly or in groups, influence the field of international relations by shaping the interactions among nations. It is therefore important to understand how those decision makers are likely to behave. Some scholars have developed elegant formal theories of decision making to demonstrate the utility of rational choice approaches in the study of international relations, while others have chosen to explain the patterns of bias that exist when leaders face the difficult task of making decisions and formulating policy. Among them are Herbert Simon, who introduced “bounded rationality” to allow leaders to short-circuit the decision process, and Elizabeth Kier, who has shown how organizational cultures shaped the development of military doctrine during the interwar period. The literature on foreign policy decision making during the Cold War looked inside the black box to generate analyses of bureaucratic politics and individual mindsets. Because decision making involves consensus seeking among groups, leaders will often avoid making choices so that they will not antagonize key members of the bureaucracy. Scholars have also investigated the role of “policy entrepreneurs” in the decision-making process, bringing individual agents into organizational, diplomatic and political processes. Over time, the field of policy decision making has evolved to help us understand not only why leaders often calculate so poorly but even more importantly, why systematic patterns of behavior are more or less likely under certain conditions.