Constructing Africa(ns) in international relations theory: bridging a theoretical abyss

Oswald, Rikus (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2009-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Africa(ns) are currently marginalised within the discipline of International Relations. This thesis explores the possibility that employing a constructivist approach could facilitate the inclusion of Africa as an object of study and Africans as potential agents of IR knowledge within the discipline by bridging a theoretical abyss. Two discourses, namely the rationalist and Africanist, are identified. They frame the sides of the theoretical abyss to which Africa(ns) have been marginalised within IR. These discourses adhere to the opposing analytical approaches which constitute the Third Debate, namely rationalism and reflectivism. This thesis proposes two theoretical reconstructions that can facilitate the bridging of this theoretical abyss. The theoretical reconstructions are explicated by employing different research stances. The researcher is situated within the intellectual space afforded by the boundaries of the discipline in order to propose the first reconstruction. The second theoretical reconstruction is proposed by problematising the boundaries the discipline of IR. This study found that constructivism facilitates the process of establishing the middle ground between rationalism and reflectivism and in so doing could include Africa as an object of study. It also found that the intervention of constructivism facilitated a necessary change in the culture of the discipline to create the possibility of extending the notion of engaged pluralism and re-imagining the discipline as a disciplinary community of difference. This leads to the opening up of the necessary dialogical space to include Africans as potential agents of IR knowledge. Constructivism is therefore the mutually constituting link between the two proposed theoretical reconstructions as they are made possible by its intervention in the discipline.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Afrika(ne) word huidiglik gemarginaliseer binne die dissipline van Internasionale Betrekkinge. Hierdie tesis ondersoek die moontlikheid dat die gebruik van ‘n konstruktiwistiese benadering die insluiting van Afrika as ‘n onderwerp van studie of Afrikane as potensiële agente van IB kennis deur die oorbrugging van ‘n teoretiese kloof kan fasiliteer. Twee diskoerse, naamlik die rasionalistiese and die Afrikanistiese, word geïdentifiseer. Hierdie diskoerse stel die sye van die teoretiese kloof voor waarin Afrika(ne) gemarginaliseer word binne IB. Hulle hou verband met die twee opponerende analitiese benaderings van rasionalisme en reflektiwisme wat die Derde Debate uitmaak. Hierdie tesis stel twee teoretiese rekonstruksies voor wat die oorbrugging van die teoretiese kloof kan fasiliteer. Hierdie teoretiese rekonstruksies word ontvou deur verskillende navorsingsposisies in te neem. Die navorser plaas homself binne die intellektuele spasie wat deur die grense van die dissipline toegelaat word om sodoende die eerste rekonstruksie voor te stel. Die tweede rekonstruksie word voorgestel deur die problematisering van die grense van die dissipline. Hierdie studie het gevind dat konstruktiwisme die proses van die opstelling van ‘n middelgrond tussen rasionalisme en reflektiwisme fasiliteer en sodoende Afrika as ‘n onderwerp van studie kan insluit. Die studie het ook gevind dat die toetrede van konstruktiwisme die nodige verandering aan die kultuur van die dissipline veroorsaak het wat die moontlikheid skep dat die begrip van ‘engaged pluralism’ uitgebrei en die hervoorstelling van die dissipline as a dissiplinêre gemeenskap van diversiteit kan word. Hierdie hervoorstelling lei tot die skepping van die nodige dialogale spasie om Afrikane as potensiële agente van IB kennis in te sluit. Konstruktiwisme is dus die onderliggende skakel wat die twee voorgestelde teoretiese rekonstruksies moontlik maak deur die benadering se toetrede tot die dissipline.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4066
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