Inaugural Conference on ‘Decolonizing’ International Relations            “Reexamining the Narrative of Theory and Practice”

Within academia, the ongoing movement to “decolonize” course syllabi and content is rooted in the need to introduce diverse sources and wider perspectives into different fields of study. To decolonize is to recognize that many of the foundational theories and thinkers that we cite today are affiliated with or influenced by White Eurocentrism. Although these are undoubtedly an important facet in our study of international affairs, it limits the perspectives and inputs that inform critical policy decisions in international affairs. Hosting this conference is a call to meaningfully include and engage non-Western scholarship into the pedagogical literature and the academic canon of international relations.

The role colonization plays in world politics far transgresses a Western dominance in history and literature. At the Fletcher School, it’s imperative that we recognize these biases and accept that the Western approach is not necessarily the best one. This process of decolonizing our coursework is complex and will require approaches from multiple sources; thus, we are proposing an activity that brings diverse perspectives to campus in the hopes of broadening our idea of mainstream international relations and move past the antiquated assumption of Western superiority in the field.

Thus, the Fletcher Students of Color and Allies (FSCA) hopes to organize and host a Fletcher-wide conference that would bring together academics, scholars and practitioners of different backgrounds to discuss issues impacting international relations and introduce perspectives that are often understudied within this field. Our objectives for organizing this conference are:

  • To expand the theoretical scope and policy implications that are discussed in international relations,
  • To include non-Western/Eurocentric perspectives and experiences into the canon of international relations,
  • 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, and
  • To highlight and celebrate the work and research that is being done by non-Western scholars and practitioners.

The first conference is focused on introducing the concept of decolonization to the field of international relations. The Conference will feature three panels, the details of which will be announced as they are confirmed.

The goal of this conference is to create a space that allows for critical intellectual exchange that surpasses the boundaries of traditional Western thought. We look forward to constructing theories as well as discussing principles, policies, and practices from underrepresented regions and perspectives while challenging the beliefs that are customarily taught in U.S.-based institutions.


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