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

Abstract

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.

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

I am a Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Politics & International Relations 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.