The Im/Possibility of Building Indigenous Theories in a Hegemonic Discipline: The Case of Japanese International Relations

Ching-Chang Chen
September 2012
Asian Perspective;2012, Vol. 36 Issue 3, p463
Academic Journal
A growing number of Asian scholars have been engaging in indigenous theory-building that seeks to gain wider recognition for their local experiences and intellectual traditions in an international relations discipline that is still dominated by Western theories and methods. After examining recent attempts to develop a distinctive Japanese approach to world politics, I argue that such attempts should proceed with great caution, for their epistemological underpinnings remain Eurocentric. A close look at the Japanese conceptions of international society indicates that they reproduce, rather than challenge, a normative hierarchy embedded in the English school between the creators of Westphalian norms and those at the receiving end. To take seriously the agency role of non-Western ideas in gearing the discipline in a truly international, less hegemonic direction, Japanese IR should recognize the plural origins and constitutional structures of international society and learn from social science and humanities communities in Asia and beyond.


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