IR319 Half Unit
Empire and Conflict in World Politics
This information is for the 2019/20 session.
Prof Tarak Barkawi CBG.9.03
This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.
Students must have completed International Political Theory (IR200).
Many peoples and places in modern world politics have been shaped by histories of empire. This course explores the violent dimensions of the imperial past and present. It covers histories and social relations of armed conflict in imperial context from “small war” to “counterinsurgency” and the War on Terror; it looks at the ways in which warfare shapes (and is shaped by) the societies, cultures and polities that populate world politics; and it considers some of the intellectual traditions that have arisen out of the experience of colonial violence, from the thought of resistance leaders to subaltern and postcolonial studies. The premise of the course is that imperial warfare and violence have been generative forces in shaping world politics.
This course aims to familiarise students with scholarship on empire and conflict in International Relations and related disciplines. This involves, first, understanding the limitations of the sovereign nation-state as the basic unit of world politics. For most people in most times and places, international relations have taken imperial form of one kind or another. What would it mean to take empire seriously in international thought and inquiry? The course approaches this question by looking at the relations between empire and globalization in historical and theoretical context. Second, although much scholarship on empire concerns economy and culture, the history of empire is a history of continual warfare and armed resistance. Such “small wars” have shaped society and politics in both the core and periphery of the international system, and often continue to do so long after the guns fall silent (as for example in the case of the US and the Vietnam War). The course will cover the histories, strategies and theories associated with such wars and their effects. Third and finally, the course will explore the intersection between empire and knowledge in political theory and social inquiry. Not only did anti-colonial resistance produce its own theorists, such as Frantz Fanon and Mao Zedong, but in recent decades empire has been the site of new turns in social and political theory and inquiry, as for example in subaltern studies and postcolonialism. The course will introduce students to this work and it applications to understanding world politics.
10 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of classes in the MT.
Additionally, there will be weekly film viewings starting in Week 2.
Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.
1) Introduction: Empire and International Relations
3) Empire, the Regions, and World Politics
5) War and Society in Global Perspective
6) Orientalism and ‘Small war’
7) Revolutionary Guerrilla War
9) Conflict and Development
10) The War on Terror in North/South Perspective
Undergraduate Class Topics
1) Globalization and History
2) Empire and the Making of Regions
3) War and Politics
4) War and Society
6) Revolutionary Guerrilla War
8) Case Study: The Wars in Vietnam
9) Empire and the War on Terror
Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (London: Penguin, 2001 ).
Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999 )
Doty, Roxanne Lynn. (1996) Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997).
A.G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History (London: Pimlico, 2002).
Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage, 1994 ).
Mao Tse-Tung. (2000) On Guerrilla Warfare. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Williams, William Appleman. (1972) The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. New York: Dell.
Wolf, Eric R. (1997) Europe and the People Without History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Student performance results
(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Department: International Relations
Total students 2018/19: 17
Average class size 2018/19: 17
Capped 2018/19: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Specialist skills