Conference on Decolonizing International Relations | October 25, 2019
Law, Development, and Resistance

The ongoing movement within academia to “decolonize” course syllabi and content is rooted in the need to introduce non-traditional sources and diverse perspectives. To decolonize is to acknowledge that many of the foundational theories and thinkers cited today are informed by White Eurocentrism. The immense importance given to these White Eurocentric schools of thought limits the perspectives and inputs that could better inform critical policy decisions in international affairs. Therefore, renewing this conference is to continue to call for meaningful  engagement with and inclusion of non-Western scholarship into the pedagogical and the academic canon of international relations.

The role colonization plays in world politics exceeds just Western dominance in history and literature. At the Fletcher School it is imperative we recognize biases and challenge the belief that the Western approach is the “best” approach. Last year’s conference was an exercise in bringing diverse perspectives to campus with the aim of broadening mainstream international relations. We intend to continue to work toward that goal this year. We are also attempting to bridge the gap between “epistemic decolonization” and decolonization efforts on the ground. In other words, the 2019 conference will examine how theories turn into action in multiple fields of international relations and across the globe all while attempting to dismantle traditional structures of power.

The Ralph Bunche Society will organize and host a university-wide conference and bring together academics, scholars and practitioners of different backgrounds to discuss alternative approaches to law, development, and popular resistance in international relations. Our objectives for organizing this conference include:

  1. To expand the theoretical scope and policy implications that are discussed in international relations.
  2. To include non-Western/Eurocentric perspectives and experiences into the canon of international relations.
  3. To facilitate conversations regarding the interaction between power and knowledge, and their effects on the study and practice of international relations, including who is allowed to possess this power and have access to knowledge.
  4. To highlight and celebrate the work and research that is being done by non-Western scholars and practitioners.
  5. To provide tools and strategies to put decolonizing theories into practice and action across multiple international relation fields.

In summary, the purpose of this year’s conference is to create a space that allows for critical intellectual exchange that surpasses the boundaries of traditional structures of power. We look forward to engaging with theories, policies, and practices from underrepresented regions and perspectives; while, challenging the beliefs that are customarily taught in Western-based institutions.


Please consider contributing to the conference through our crowdfunding page. Your support will help make the event a success and will help establish the Conference as a yearly event at Fletcher.