Deafening Silence? Marxism, International Historical Sociology and the Spectre of Eurocentrism


Approaching the centenary of its establishment as a formal discipline, International Relations today challenges the ahistorical and aspatial frameworks advanced by the theories of earlier luminaries. Yet, despite a burgeoning body of literature built on the transdisciplinary efforts bridging International Relations and its long-separated nomothetic relatives, the new and emerging conceptual frameworks have not been able to effectively overcome the challenge posed by the ‘non-West’. The recent wave of international historical sociology has highlighted possible trajectories to problematise the myopic and unipolar conceptions of the international system; however, the question of Eurocentrism still lingers in the developing research programmes. This article interjects into the ongoing historical materialist debate in international historical sociology by: (1) conceptually and empirically challenging the rigid boundaries of the extant approaches; and (2) critically assessing the postulations of recent theorising on ‘the international’, capitalist states-system/geopolitics and uneven and combined development. While the significance of the present contributions in international historical sociology should not be understated, it is argued that the ‘Eurocentric cage’ still occupies a dominant ontological position which essentially silences ‘connected histories’ and conceals the role of inter-societal relations in the making of the modern states-system and capitalist geopolitics.

European Journal of International Relations
Cemal Burak Tansel
Lecturer in International Politics

I am a Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, specialising in the historical sociology of state formation and capitalist development in the Middle East and the political economy of development.