Second Annual Conference on Decolonizing International Relations, “Decolonizing International Relations: Law, Development, Resistance”

The Second Annual Conference on Decolonizing International Relations,“Decolonizing International Relations: Law, Development, Resistance” took place on October 25th, 2019. This goal of this year’s conference was to 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–namely law, strategic nonviolence, and development. The introduction of this conference, and its decolonizing mission, is pushing forward a crucial agenda at Fletcher. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of my Fletcher education has been learning how to critically examine the field of international relations; working to challenge Western hegemony within the sphere of international affairs will make all of us better, more accountable practitioners.

Mahmood Mamdani presenting the Keynote Address

The People Power: Strategic Nonviolence Panel with Amal Bishara, Sean Chabot, Maria Stephan, moderated by Douglas Johnson, provided a meaningful and varied look at nonviolent activism. One of the most compelling aspects of this panel was the way in which struggle was described as being about creating new ways of life and community; the fight must go further than the colonizer, to challenging the overall colonial nature that has been embedded and enforced within the society. Further, a significant lesson to remember as we ourselves take to the streets, or we see communities around the world fight for their basic human rights: within the act of resisting, you are practicing liberation.

Dr. Mahmood Mamdani forced all of us to look inward at America’s legacy of colonization, particularly towards indigenous communities. According to Dr. Mamdani, the American Revolution was, at once, the defeat of a settler colonial nation, and the triumph of of a settler colonial nation, especially as embodied in the reservation system. Above all, Dr. Mamdani reminded us that the struggle to decolonize international relations begins at home.

Congratulations and thank you to the Decolonizing International Relations team for a very meaningful and provoking conference.

Written by: Kelsey Wise, F20