Handbook of Critical International Relations
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Handbook of Critical International Relations

Edited by Steven C. Roach

Comprising a plurality of perspectives, this timely Handbook is an essential resource for understanding past and current challenges to democracy, justice, social and gender equality, identity and freedom. It shows how critical international relations (IR) theory functions as a broad-based and diverse critique of society.
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Chapter 8: Recognition reframed: reconfiguring recognition in global politics

Kate Schick


Recognition theory provides an important counterweight to dominant IR: it meets the pessimism of realism with faith in moral progress and the abstract universalism of liberalism with situated relationality and lived political struggle. At present, however, the transformative potential of recognition theory in IR is limited by the dominance of overly teleological and insufficiently political conceptions of recognition. In this chapter, I argue that IR scholars need to recover an agonistic conception of recognition if its critical potential is to be realized more fully. A more agonistic understanding of recognition-as-learning attends more closely to the social and political dimensions of (mis)recognition and emphasizes the ongoing difficulty and political risk of re-cognizing and re-configuring global politics. I conclude the chapter by exploring the outworking of agonistic recognition in the context of the Mohawk nation’s politics of refusal and the City of Sanctuary movement’s everyday border politics.

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