Deep K. Datta-Ray
Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore
The racial hierarchy underscoring colonialism persists, organises core-periphery interactions and so undermines International Relations’ (IR’s) purpose of accounting and explaining to mitigate violence. Despite IR’s awareness of its colonialism, it reconstitutes in the hermeneutic’s deductive and inductive method via aphasia (calculated forgetting) about its heuristic: diplomacy. The result, analytic-violence or the core’s heuristic corrupting interaction with the periphery. Yet, its evasiveness testifies to a meaningfulness beyond IR’s hermeneutic. Irretrievably corrupted by its heuristic, IR’s hermeneutic is ejected for an altogether new hermeneutic: Producer-Centred Research (PCR). Eschewing deduction and induction, and so colonialism, PCR initiates with abduction or a problem arising from theory and practice to resolve it in terms of rationality because of its, and the problem’s, significance. Changing “rationality” to “rationalities” registers the core’s rationality as colonialism while preventing it from contaminating PCR’s collection and assessment of peripheral practices to determine if they cohere into another rationality. Moreover, treating peripheral practitioners authoritatively, as capable of rationalising themselves and thus equal to rationality, further protects PCR from aphasia. Verifying efficacy shows PCR’s decolonisation of the hermeneutic is not entirely replicated externally, amongst IR scholars. The core engages PCR, but it incites violence in the periphery which defends rationality and so is colonialism’s bastion, now.
On the morning of 26 February 2019, Indian Mirage-2000 nuclear capable fighter-bombers struck Pakistan’s Balakot region, but New Delhi called this event “non-military”. The paradox of terming the use of strategic airpower as anything but military catalysed analysts and International Relations (IR) into geostrategic simulations of New Delhi’s actions. Since geostrategy only considers the material, such as hardware or geography, India’s action was rendered a function of Pakistani action in an endless tit-for-tat and so denuded of its history and culture. Compounding this superficiality was analysts and scholars not utilising the terms and categories used by Indians. The consequence was not even a simulation, but a simulacra, for being limited to the material, which in any case was not represented in India’s manner. At stake in this double-blinding is humanity. After all, there is no brinkmanship greater than a nuclear power striking another. Nor are there any precedents, for even the USSR and USA did not risk a homeland attack during the Cuban Missile Crisis or at any other point during their Cold War. Requisite, then, are in-depth understandings of international politics. Yet such a work for India does exist, is from the periphery, and was well received by the core. Cambridge University's Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, at Trinity College, Samita Sen, writes in her review: “This book is a valuable addition to … intellectual history. It is a significant text for historians as well as political scientists and will of course be compulsory reading for international relations experts”. SOAS’s Professor of World Politics Sir Stephen Chan writes the book is, “a superb rendition of a diplomatic culture which Western observers would normally miss or misunderstand,” and Oxford University historian Faisal Devji writes: “This highly original study represents the first examination of Indian foreign policy as the product of a distinctive political culture … an important corrective to the allegedly universalistic theories of interest that dominate political analysis”.
Nevertheless, that the risk of repeating the simulacra resulting from Balakot remains is well illustrated by how the book was actively attacked by the periphery and whose attacks undermined the core. How this paradoxical situation arose begins to become apparent in that core-periphery interaction is hierarchical. Aggravating this is racism, making for racial hierarchy. These abound, but only the European variant valorises and globalises itself. This dual process of being constituted and constituting racial hierarchy transnationally is colonialism and it is violence. It is this process that reduced analysis of Balakot to meaninglessness, but it also enervates IR because colonialism makes the discipline irrelevant in terms of its own metric: to account for and explain the international so as to mitigate violence.
To redirect IR back toward its professed purpose, this article begins with showing disciplinary awareness of colonialism from the origin of its foundational concept, theories, and subject, to the practice of international politics: diplomacy. Racial hierarchy, in short, is implicit in the practice of IR, that is, its hermeneutic’s method – abduction and induction. Nevertheless, aphasia – calculated forgetting, in this case, of the racially hierarchical ordering of the core’s understanding of diplomacy – ensures that diplomacy remains the heuristic and so, inevitably, the hermeneutic utilises and forwards racial hierarchy. Hence the hermeneutic is colonialism, and its attendant, violence. It initiates in the periphery that is India with the hermeneutic imposing the heuristic. The failure to account or explain the periphery escalates violence, which oscillates between mangling the core by creating impossible categories – irrational in their own terms or rendering practice impossible because of the imposition of alien categories – and obliterating the periphery’s practices. Patently, this carnival of destruction within and without cannot do, but it does testify to the periphery’s excess being meaningful. Why else the need for impossible categories or obliteration? The prevalence of both in the hermeneutic amounts to a syndrome, analytic-violence, which only fortifies the periphery’s meaningfulness as another diplomacy unavailable to the hermeneutic. These interactions within the hermeneutic and between the core and periphery make for the following diagnosis: awareness cannot decolonise IR’s hermeneutic because it is fundamentally corrupted by colonialism and so requisite is an entirely new hermeneutic divorced from the heuristic’s racial hierarchy and capable of regenerating IR.
Colonialism in the hermeneutic is treated in the article’s second section, which recognises colonialism as the hermeneutic because its deductive and inductive methods are constricted by racial hierarchy and so it cannot navigate the periphery’s data. Hence the need to eschew these methods and to form an entirely new hermeneutic: Producer-Centred Research (PCR). This approach deviates from the hermeneutic in four ways: Unlike IR’s method, PCR is initiated by a problem, in this case, colonialism, and so PCR does not replicate core concerns when engaging the periphery. While IR’s sites are theory and practice, the therapeutic site for PCR is “rationality” because of its, and the problem’s, significance. When IR considers rationality, it is singular, but PCR converts it to the plural, rationalities. This ensures colonialism’s claim to rationality is maintained, but it is also rendered as one of many, which safeguards against aphasia. Enabled, then, is PCR engaging rationality and its handmaiden, colonialism, while searching for rationalities not colonially but in the form of robust phenomena, arising from practice and made sense of in practitioner terms. This treatment of the periphery as “authoritative sources” further protects against aphasia and is the final deviation from IR’s hermeneutic. Next, the treatment’s efficacy in decolonising interaction in the periphery that is India is verified via two examples: a misapplication of PCR and its uncovering of the rationale for secrecy. The examples illustrate the way in which PCR deletes colonialism internal to core-periphery interaction in that the method is no longer about imposing heuristics. This is how the key concept of “secrecy” is relieved from core presumptions about safeguarding or imperilling the state and instead exposed as simply a status symbol bolstering diplomats’ low personal status. The success of this deployment lies in eschewing the violence of imposing core concerns while uncovering practitioners’ meaning, and this also explicates how PCR may be replicated.
The final section verifies the treatment’s external efficacy. Whether PCR ameliorates the violence of IR scholars is gauged via the first deployment of PCR from a PhD proposal to its reception as an academic monograph. This shows that the core is decolonising but also that PCR is an incitement to violence in the periphery. There is preclusion, that is, when PCR’s facts are harnessed to colonialism. The core’s openness is also subverted to occlude PCR by a hysterical periphery. Hysteria arises from peripheral reviewers defending rationality because they are invested in the material benefits distributed by the core, for instance, and at the very least, being paid to travel to conferences in the core. Nevertheless, the core states rationality was invented by it and the periphery mimics, thereby rendering the latter counterfeit. The paradox of peripherals defending a rationality which itself denotes them as counterfeit, is exposed by PCR in embarrassing detail. PCR is therefore intolerable to peripheral scholars for exposing their colonialism and discomfort, hence their hysteria. Yet they choose to remain colonised, which is why colonialism’s bastion is now the periphery. A glimpse to why is the Indian IR lecturer and militant advocate of non-core IR managing the pain of a presumed slight by resorting to repeatedly stating she is to contribute to a London School of Economics (LSE) publication. In addition, this scholar was only able to afford an apartment in a lower middle-class New Delhi neighbourhood because of a fellowship at a European university. In short, the plight of peripheral scholars is such that they must bear the subservience demanded by colonialism to aspire to a life like that what is only tolerable for core scholars.
2. Assessment and Diagnosis
An assessment of colonialism and IR cannot miss disciplinary awareness of race having been the fundamental ontological unit of colonial politics, nor its centrality to the “Anglosphere,” which was a slave-trading organisation. Race became the metric for a global hierarchy because of Anglosphere slave-traders’ self-perception of being the “bastion” of European civilization, which underscored their claim of being central to global governance. The slave-trading economy’s globalisation extended racial hierarchy across all peoples. Constituted and then naturalised was the boundary between colour-coded European sameness, defined as superior, to non-Europeans. This was operationalised via imperialism’s vectors of administration within the colonies, operating within colonial discursive authorisations received from metropoles. Cementing the installation of racial hierarchy as the metric and vector to establish colonialism transnationally was that even its challengers could not transcend it.
Into this context was born IR and its ontology was race. A founding IR figure wrote The Negro Race and European Civilization, which assumed physiological differences between black and white brains and stated the former’s organic development ceased at puberty. Such works were about biological race, but also imperialism, which made its metric the vector, and so inaugurated IR as colonialism. An IR textbook proclaimed transforming international politics, “to increase the resources of the national state through the absorption or exploitation of … inferior races”. This developed into a morality for colonization. Its imbrication in IR continued in the Journal of Race Development becoming Foreign Affairs, the discipline’s “founding” journal in 1922, and it is still published by the Council on Foreign Relations. In other words, IR constituted colonialism because it was the “policy science designed to solve the dilemmas posed by empire-building and colonial administration facing the white Western powers expanding into and occupying the so-called ‘waste places of the earth,’” as the periphery is called. That even disciplinary opponents could not transgress colonialism confirmed its hold over the discipline. For instance, the first African American Rhodes Scholar sought to undermine colonialism by reversing its claim that race created culture, but in doing so only maintained the colonial category of race.
In the wake of World War II, race was veiled to make colonialism so insidiousness it became neo-colonialism. Once again, IR was aware that the Holocaust rendered biological race untenable, and politics, both global anti-colonialism and internal to the core in the UK and USA, was engulfed by agitation, which is why race had to be camouflaged. This cumulated with UNESCO statements on The Race Question, rebranding race as “ethnicity”. It was rebranding because replacing naturalist with historicist explanations did not undermine race, but maintained racial hierarchy and since it was also the category of analysis, perpetuated colonialism as neo-colonialism. In keeping with a changing context, IR also embraced neo-colonialism. In 1948, Hans Morgenthau wrote not of race, but of the “politically empty spaces of Africa and Asia”. Such seemingly innocuous language proliferated. For instance, “humanitarian intervention,” which is neo-colonialism as its claim to morality cloaks racial hierarchy since all morality is presumed to originate in the West. Hence, only the West is mandated to “intervene” to spread morality.
Colonialism continues to order international politics and IR in a multiplicity of manners. An instance is “pre-emption”. This defence is restricted to the colonial elite by its concomitant, “rogue states”. The subterfuge whereby imposition upon the periphery also denies it its own defence is what makes neo-colonialism insidious. This is apparent in IR’s core concept and theories, all of which the discipline is aware of. Discernible in the language of the Family of Nations is its racial hierarchy because only those nations are permitted war, and it is waged against those beyond the family – the racial dregs of global society. Their threat is racial hierarchy, and the combination’s outcome is IR’s foundational concept: anarchy. It is “largely assumed to inhere in the ‘primitive’ politics of the ‘inferior’ races … of what we’d now consider the ‘third world’”. Anarchy is racial hierarchy and it threatens the Family and this is the foundation for IR’s theories, which is why they, too, propagate neo-colonialism in varying forms. Realism directs the “construction of a hierarchical racial order to be imposed upon the anarchy arising from the tropics,” while Liberalism mandates “the imposition of a white racist order on indigenous peoples”. Meanwhile, Constructivism asserts that the burden of civilising the world rests with the racial elite because it maintains anarchy.
IR’s racial hierarchy and awareness of it today extends into the discipline to the conceptualisation of its subject, the practice of international politics: diplomacy. Here “culture” and “rationality” cloak the racial hierarchy palpable in the acceptance of the “essence of diplomacy” as the “elite culture, comprising the common intellectual culture of Europe,” which is why diplomacy is “a corpus Christianorum bound by the laws of Christ”. In other words, diplomacy is the “attempt to sustain behaviour” in keeping with the “culture of the dominant Western powers,” where culture arises from “rationality in the sense of action that is internally consistent with given goals.” The key is “rationality,” which fuses racial hierarchy with Europe, culture, and diplomacy. Hence, rationality is why diplomacy’s seminal authors are of the colonising core. They must be, because as a core author states, the “world system … came into being in the Italian peninsula and reached its full expression in Europe”. Its “goals” are the same as diplomacy’s, which is why diplomatic theory “appeared at the same time as diplomacy began to assume its … form in the late fifteenth century”.
That diplomacy began at the core as racial hierarchy and its vector makes for colonialism also emerges in diplomacy’s “goals”. These are set by “European diplomacy’s logical frame of reference … the notion that unity is the natural condition of social order, which should be restored through proper mediation among its divided parts.” In other words, Europe originates the racial hierarchy that is diplomacy and utilises it to incorporate all. The extravagance of this violent practice of using diplomacy as heuristic and hermeneutic is rooted in Western society’s self-proclaimed culture: Christianity, which sets estrangement from God as the origin in the Old Testament story of the fall of man. This is universalized as the “brotherhood of man” in the New Testament, the semantic shift conflating one man’s origin with everyone’s. Hence, we are all dependent on God’s mediator: Christ. He legitimises the Papacy, uniquely imbuing it with the power to unify us with God. The Papacy establishes spiritual unity in medieval Europe because people believe in the Papacy. Its demise is the Reformation because of the rise in belief of man’s direct ability to negotiate unification with God. Significantly, the will to unify remains, despite the fracturing of Christianity into Catholicism and Protestantism. This newfound belief in man’s ability to unify results in Christian society fragmenting into states as they usurp the Church’s role. Nevertheless, this splintering necessitates the diplomatic system, and its harbinger is the Treaty of Westphalia’s appropriation and reproduction of spiritual unity as a secular contract: that is, accept Westphalia’s assumptions to mitigate violence.
Embarrassingly, this heralds diplomacy to realise unity which simultaneously obliterates unity because diplomatic relations regularize Europe’s fragmentation. In short, Europe displaces God, but not his logic: a pre-set origin and end remain. Spirituality is abandoned for failing to deliver unity as oneness with God, but the idea of unity persists as a secular diplomatic project. Naturally, and crucially, as promulgator of this transnational system, the core sets the terms for unity. In practice, unity is assimilation, which is projected from the spiritual into the corporeal. The result is unending violence now, initiated by the racial hierarchy of the heuristic, which the hermeneutic must utilise. This duality constitutes colonialism with the IR scholar as its vanguard and the diplomat, its foot soldier. The scholar utilises the hermeneutic to enclose the periphery intellectually, permitting the latter to assimilate whatever remains. This violence is unending, for assimilation’s purpose is the impossible ideal of “unity”. This makes violence a syndrome: analytic-violence.
That analytic-violence now qualifies as interaction is illustrated by the periphery that is India. It is managed in the genres of memoire, history, and theory, which are suffused with violence as wonderment, incoherence, and a combination of deletion, dismissal, and denigration. The violence of wonderment stems from converting this pathic experience into an agential and intellectual phenomena or rationality via nativism. Memoirists rationalise their wonderment as superiority, replacing core with periphery to make their experience substantive. Yet the entire process is contained within, and perpetuates, colonialism. Buttressing colonialism is wonderment’s irrationality, an example of this are two Indian diplomats who are so entranced with themselves that both, in the same anthology, claim to have invented a policy everyone knows originates elsewhere.
The violence of incoherence is inaugurated by the impulse to identify diplomacy’s rationality, which is so self-evident that it can only be glimpsed in its absence, such as when a historian explains, “even with archive material, our speculations may be hard to verify since Indian strategic decision-making appears to be mostly oral”. The unavailability of documentary facts is significant only because it disallows uncovering rationality, or “strategic decision-making” and thus there is “speculation,” or the process of inducing. This is illogical in at least two ways. Factual error renders speculation incoherent, and despite professing to be led by empirical evidence, speculation manifests as the imposition of core concepts. The insufficiency of these concepts is why they are mangled into ontologically incompatible categories such as Liberal and Realist. This violence directed at the core is a necessary by-product of containing the periphery. A variation of incoherence is distinguishing between rationality as core and practice as “non-conventional” in core terms, because practice is forced into an incompatible rationality. Prevalent, too, is the incoherence of futurism, or the wish that the core could order the periphery, which raises the question of how the hermeneutic can operate in the periphery now since its heuristic does not even exist there? Such colonialism is occasionally overt, as is the aspiration to incorporate India into colonialism.
Other commonplace forms of incoherence include the colonialism of ascribing to Indians incompetence in mimicking the core or passivity towards the core, and even when Indians are found to be neither incompetent nor passive, their practice is limited to colonialism’s purpose of unity. Patently, incoherence flourishes in the hermeneutic, claiming to induce but really imposing the heuristic. An example of this is the assumption that India, like the core, seeks great power status, or does so because of how great powers enforce themselves upon India, or that this is India’s purpose since it is the great powers’ purpose. Significant is not India’s desire for sameness but rather the fact that these assertions originate in the hermeneutic, not in practice.
Indeed, practice is deleted, dismissed and denigrated because rationality is imposed upon the periphery since IR’s approach is analytic-violence. This violence is both inward and outward with Liberalism’s deployment to contain India, but it is slippery and so the theory’s integrity is broken to make it account for phenomena that it ordinarily cannot. Increasingly popular is Realism. As with Liberalism, Realism is violence toward both itself and the periphery in imposing itself upon India. Both make for incoherence. In Realism, this is most startling in its claiming that Indians and Pakistanis are different in terms of rationality, but then accounting for both with Realism! Moreover, Indian slippages haunt Constructivism so that it is enslaved to Realism. Regardless of which theory is being discussed, what distinguishes their violence is the vanishing subject. For instance, India’s nuclear diplomacy is, for Realists, about material security, but for Postcolonials, it is about status-seeking. Both eradicate, in turn, Indian material concerns or Indian leaders’ long history of status-seeking. Exacerbating this is that both theories assume India begins Liberal and is becoming Realist by learning from the masters of nuclear diplomacy. This infantilising of India is colonialism and it occurs because regardless of the theory in question, the hermeneutic utilises a heuristic that constitutes racial hierarchy whereby rationality originates in the core and is mimicked by the periphery. Even self-conscious attempts to avoid this by not imposing the hermeneutic results in colonialism because core concepts are smuggled in with an Indian guise, or are limited because the parameters are from the core.
Though nothing redeems the numerous forms of analytic-violence, its occurrence does substantiate the core’s shortcomings in its interactions with a periphery that clearly remains evasive. Moreover, the frequency of the core’s slippages in these interactions signifies an altogether alternate rationality. Sanctioning this are flashes of meaning in the work of Sunanda K. Datta-Ray on India’s annexation of Sikkim, relations with Singapore, and practices of secrecy. In all three instances, Datta-Ray initiates with “issues” and proceeds with practitioners and official documents, reading them in conjunction. Unfortunately, this corpus does not systemise meaning beyond specific historical processes and individual practices to the level of the state and towards rationality. Perceptible, though, is that in addition to the core’s limits in both hermeneutic and heuristic, there exists the possibility of a new hermeneutic that avoids violence and so returns to IR’s metric.
The diagnosis for the analytic-violence pervading core-periphery interaction in memoires, histories, and theories, cannot be self-awareness. IR is aware of the colonialism of its components: origin, concept, theory, and the practice of diplomacy. All that remains is the process that combines these components: the hermeneutic. Evidently, it is analytic-violence’s vector, but it cannot simply convey violence since its components have been cleansed by self-awareness. The hermeneutic must therefore constitute violence. In other words, the very practice of IR as inducing or deducing pivots on its heuristic, diplomacy, which is understood as racial hierarchy, thereby necessarily negating self-awareness about its components and so restoring violence. This is “aphasia,” or “calculated forgetting,” and it is not new to IR. “Racial aphasia” was invoked for the components of IR in the post-War period in order to continue to utilise them. Moreover, the manoeuvre’s success is what renders self-awareness insufficient for neutralising colonialism in practice via more self-awareness. For these reasons, the diagnosis is that the hermeneutic is irretrievably compromised as deducing and inducing in practice and theory by the recurrence of aphasia about diplomacy. In short, what is requisite is a completely new hermeneutic to restore IR to its metric.
3. Treatment and Internal Efficacy
The treatment proposed to eradicate colonialism, including neo-colonialism, from the hermeneutic is “Producer-Centred Research” (PCR) because it is neither inductive nor deductive. The former accounts for the violence of wonderment and incoherence because the hermeneutic starts at the periphery and examines its results for implications to develop an inference that some rationality is operative. However, this is nearly always undermined by the truism that observation is necessarily informed by rationality, which in this case is particularly malignant: colonialism. In short, induction cannot handle the vicissitudes of colonialism. Meanwhile, deduction accounts for the violence of deletion, dismissal, and denigration because the hermeneutic starts with colonialism and proceeds through the periphery to arrive at a result which either demonstrates colonialism or falsifies it. However, falsification never arises as violence is enhanced to enforce conformity. Instead, PCR initiates with neither colonialism nor tainted data, but with consequences, and then constructs reason.
For instance: The surprising fact that the hermeneutic does not keep to its metric, is observed. But if the periphery exceeds the hermeneutic, then the hermeneutic not keeping to its metric becomes a matter of course. Hence, there is reason to suspect that the periphery exceeds IR. Thus, PCR initiates with the perception of surprise. At issue is not theorising the surprise, but rather choosing which hypothesis to follow. This is indicated by the relationship between observations, which, in the case of core-periphery interaction, points to IR’s subversion by colonialism despite awareness and peripheral excess. Hence, the hypothesis is that the hermeneutic is compromised. This makes PCR, at its inception, abductive. Its utility is that it transgresses inductive and deductive reason because it is initiated by “an act of insight, although of extremely fallible insight.”
Hence the need to establish PCR precisely. PCR’s initiator is surprise, and it is related to other observations, either as a hidden cause and effect, as a phenomenon like others already experienced and explained in other situations, or of creating new general descriptions. Surprise takes two forms: novelty and anomaly. In colonialism’s case, it is the latter since IR’s metric is subverted. The depth, extent, and tenacity of the subversion is why it is not viewed in the terrain of theory or practice, but as “rationality”. Embedded in rationality is “culture” and “diplomacy,” and rationality is the operational location of choice for retired bureaucrats, historians, and theorists, who, in turn, misunderstand, seek, and impose it. Moreover, as the extent of analytic-violence intimates, the periphery exceeds colonialism and, at a minimum, is meaningful. Despite its prevalence and because it is pregnant with meaning, the vague use of rationality is refined to “loose and implicit practical-cum-theoretical pattern networks of knowledge, based on the experience of physical instances,” or “an ideas toolkit”. It is not just “a phenomenon to be accounted for,” but also “one that accounts”. The treatment, and thus the interaction, is not undermined by using rationality. Being a colonial concept does not foreclose its usage for maintaining colonialism. That is as absurd as stating that perceiving, eating, or blinking is colonial. The error is assuming these concepts are internal to colonialism when they are external. In short, rationality in the singular is rejected for rationalities in the plural, hence colonialism is not rationality, but rather one of its forms. Yet, given the very embeddedness of rationality in the society that produces it, colonialism may be forgotten via aphasia, which is rampantly labelled as common sense. This necessitates further elaboration to make for movement between rationalities without imposing colonialism across rationalities. Required is inoculation against confirmation bias, which is to consistently remind oneself it is rationalities rather than rationality.
Constantly self-conscious, the final inoculation begins to become apparent in the accounting for the anomaly. This starts with examining the discipline itself, as has been done by engaging its origins, concepts, theories, and practice, to understand how the heuristic furthers racial hierarchy and organises the hermeneutic to make for colonialism. Also involved is examining the subject. This raises the issue of how to determine if it is rationality or rationalities in the absence of induction and deduction. The answer is that rationality as singular or plural is expressed in real-life, micro-sociological situations composed of practices. The implication is to be aware of one’s own rationality and simultaneously explore for another via practices. On the former, knowledge of, but not the privileging, of rationality’s theories is recommended in contrast with deduction’s emphasizing one and induction’s claiming to eschew all. A plurality of theories assists, at a minimum, in fostering self-consciousness about rationality. For instance, only a deep familiarity of Liberalism, Marxism, and Global History engenders awareness of their colonialism, expressed as paternalistic sentimentalism; similarly, only awareness of Postcolonialism and Postmodernism uncovers their egocentric fantasias’ foundation in a profoundly colonial narrative of unending violence. In short, rationality is all too familiar to PCR’s practitioner, who therefore cannot allow it to taint the engagement with sociological practices.
How these are engaged completes the break with the hermeneutic and reveals the second inoculation against aphasia. While the hermeneutic cannot contemplate the periphery as capable of generating “authoritative sources,” PCR not only can but does by treating the periphery as capable of generating practice and rationalising it. In short, the periphery is placed on par with theory and core. That this step arises from engaging rationality reiterates that it should inform empirical work, which should also be in consonance with rationality – only, not as deduction or induction. They negate the self-awareness of “grounded” disciplines such as Sociology and Anthropology and restore colonialism in their hermeneutic. For instance, Anthropologists collect data, but interpret via core personalities, rather than, say, Mahatma Gandhi or Chairman Mao Zedong, or local texts that have for thousands of years been part and parcel of Asian societies.
In other words, PCR is not “grounded research,” but it accounts for an anomaly arising from interaction and so proceeds to investigate in terms of rationality, disciplinary practice, and the practices of the periphery. What reinsulates the latter is that practices are not just collected to verify if they accrue into patterns to determine if they are robust enough to indicate a rationality and to then verify whether this constitutes colonialism. Rather, the entire process is made sense of in terms of the practitioners: their practices are interpreted by them while also referring to rationality. In short, aphasia, even as common sense, is actively countered in the hermeneutic that is PCR. The result, therefore, is not “Agent-Based Modelling” because it is ignorance-preserving, abstract, and exploratory. PCR in contrast creates knowledge, albeit on another register, is grounded, but not in induction or deduction, and is conclusive because hypotheses arising from theory’s interaction with the periphery are explained by the latter’s data being self-explanatory.
The novelty of the treatment’s dissolution of the hermeneutic’s colonialism necessitates demonstration to evaluate efficacy and illustrate proper conduct. The first example is Ashis Nandy’s practice, which initiates with establishing secularists and Hindu-nationalists, despite their violent differences about the status of Muslims in India, as one and the same for they are locked in a “‘historical’ battle [and so] understand each other perfectly” because the battleground is “empirical, verifiable history”. But of course, the historical facts are impossibly contested. Nandy’s cure is to negate empiricism by the “point of view” articulated by the Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda, to manage the pain of verifiable empirical “fact” through an “ahistorical” “moral”: principled forgetfulness. Within Vivekananda, this form of pain-management to survive the present affirms the power of the moral in managing “fact,” and in doing so, affirms the concept of “timeless truths”. Evidently, Nandy has begun, as PCR does, with the anomaly of two divergent practices, history and principled forgetfulness, to alleviate violence. Moreover, Nandy makes the therapeutic site rationalities, signified by history and principled forgetfulness, because the latter is an abomination to history’s purpose of laying bare the past as a frame of reference. Therefore, Vivekananda is either insane or a practitioner of “doublethink”. But neither category describes him without analytic-violence, either branding him insane or, via imposition, straitjacketing him in rationality.
Next, Nandy accounts for principled forgetfulness not by the impossibility of eschewing rationality, but by utilising it rationally since his deployment of the “historical imagination” never exceeds its archival limits. Paradoxically, Nandy uses history to account for ahistory, and does so by presenting the Bengali, Girindrasekhar Bose, in the proper way of historians, by contextualizing him in his society, elements of which search for their own empirically-verifiable history. Of significance is that Bose finds the puranas – ancient Indian mythical texts – to be a type of truth beyond history whose importance lies not in empirical fact but in their presenting alternative theories which possibly indicate an alternative rationality. Significantly, all of this is not to raise dead theories as a gift to rationality, but to account for an anomaly to reduce violence now.
It is here, in verifying if myths make for a rationality, that Nandy is subverted by aphasia into imposing a totally alien tool-kit: psychoanalysis. This is not only because psychoanalysis is, even in Europe, a new invention, or that it is a personal invention, but also because it is entrenched in the intersection of the cultures of the Enlightenment and Romanticism. In other words, Nandy uses the historical method but it produces aphasia, drawing him further into rationality, and so colonialism follows in the imposition of the core on hundreds of millions of the periphery’s denizens. Of course, they might fit into the core’s matrix, but what is certain is that Nandy wilfully eschews the “superabundance” of textual material that has been compiled over millennia and is utilised by Indians daily, just as Nandy’s example of Bose demonstrates. The betrayal of Bose is that he thinks he can explain himself by referring to his society’s productions, but Nandy consciously forgets this by way of aphasia. It occurs because Nandy refuses to treat, starting with Bose, the periphery’s inhabitants as “authoritative sources”. That the self-avowedly peripheral Nandy recognises rationalities but denies them to the periphery reaffirms colonialism’s insidiousness. It is unsurprising, then, that this is so regular an occurrence in IR that one academic proclaims: “When shit happens – events defy conventional language, fit no familiar pattern, follow no conception of causality – I reach for Virilio’s cosmology.” The writer epitomises a core that cannot reach out to the people making shit happen, for doing so is to admit rationality exists in the plural and that colonialism undermines the practice of IR in terms of its own metric.
What Nandy should do to restore efficacy is evident in the final example, secrecy in theory and practice, in India. The concept of “secrecy” for Realists, safeguards democracy, but it is undermined by secrecy, according to Postcolonials. Meanwhile, in practice, the Indian Prime Minister’s calls for “declassification” and also says so in conversation. The combination of all three makes for anomaly and thus commences PCR. A way to surmount this impasse between theories and practice by viewing the practitioner as an equal to theory is to continue with PCR. Its completion begins with another practice: the refusal to allow my travel with Indian diplomats to Bombay during my fieldwork at India’s Ministry of External Affairs because of, as the Foreign Secretary explained, secrecy. On the diplomats’ return, they refused to engage in conversations mundane to the point of banality about Bombay. Questions were about the stay, sightseeing, the ocean – which was new for several – and the visit to Bombay’s nuclear facilities, about which my inquisitiveness was limited to “what is it like?” One bureaucrat muttered “national secrecy” as if that were an explanation – as it is for Realists and Postcolonials since they interpret in their own terms, rather than the periphery’s. Another bureaucrat added that their oath of secrecy denies the Constitutional right of free speech, which interlinks all of us. This wall of silence was punctured by a young female diplomat who giggled, “they don’t want to talk about it because it gives them status(!)” and added: “I was talking to one of the [nuclear] scientists and he was saying … ‘Why for all this secrecy? It’s just to hide incompetencies here. And as for this national security business … we use all these private contractors and all their records are public. If any Chinese want to find out what we do, all they have to do is go look at the private company’s records!’ These peoples’ [the new officials] heads are spinning now with all this secrecy!”
To treat the quote as an equal to rationality, as “authoritative” counters aphasia as common sense and provides an avenue to interrogate the rationality for secrecy in the periphery that resolves the anomaly between Realism, Postcolonialism, and periphery. Secrecy’s accounting in peripheral terms is what authorizes the contention that secrecy is an ostentatious display of high status. Reinforcing the contention is a wealth of data about bureaucrats’ pre-bureaucratic lives being peripheral, which makes them status-seekers. Secrecy enables positive differentiation, thereby negating low status which continues into the bureaucrat’s life from pre-bureaucratic times. This is because low racial and economic status cannot be compensated for by a newly-acquired job status. It requires constant bolstering, and so secrecy. In other words, secrecy enables and empowers, which is democracy’s purpose. Secrecy delivers democracy and so has nothing to do with Realism’s and Postcolonialism’s presumptions about state-level operations. In short, PCR mitigates analytic-violence not by imposing rationality, but by utilising it to account for and explain a significant IR concept in the periphery. This establishes efficacy in practice, for PCR dissolves colonialism internal to the hermeneutic and so aligns core-periphery interaction with IR’s metric. Moreover, PCR also lends itself to comparing, and also cross-pollination, between multiple rationalities, as has been done for the concept of ritual in diplomacy in the core, India, and China.
4. External Efficacy and Conclusion
Alignment’s external dimension is if PCR ameliorates the colonialism of its context. Establishing this completes efficacy’s evaluation, however, it is complicated by PCR possibly generating irrationality in rationality’s terms while addressing it, raising the spectre of occlusion or preclusion. To elaborate, in eradicating colonialism, PCR is an “authentic homegrown” hermeneutic that can unearth “authentic homegrown” rationalities, as it does with “secrecy”. This is efficacious for operating beyond colonialism and so revealing what is actually going on, but this may elude the context’s colonialism, or it may obstruct PCR from progressing. To assess this, the first self-conscious monograph-length deployment of PCR, The Making of Indian Diplomacy: a Critique of Eurocentrism (New York: OUP, 2015) is viewed in its context: scholars, primarily of IR. Their practices are made sense of in terms of PCR by treating its producers as “authoritative sources”. However, they are not engaged with as extensively as the producers in the monograph are. Hence, relative to the monograph, this section is speculative. Furthermore, managing context as core and periphery is not to endorse colonialism’s racial metric, but to map its operation, flow, and “bastion” now.
The monograph’s origins suggest that IR’s neo-colonialism dominated the core in 2005, when a proposal for a PhD was rejected outright by dozens of prospective supervisors primarily in the departments of IR, Anthropology and Sociology at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, the LSE, and elsewhere in the United Kingdom over the course of numerous meetings. Only a Politics professor at SOAS was receptive, contingent on co-supervision with a colleague experienced in fieldwork within NGOs. The former’s enthusiasm switching to rejection indicates PCR eluded his colleague. As the professor explained after discussions with his colleague, “the larger rationale - the motivation for the study - needs to be better articulated.” To overcome the impasse, with “sly civility” the proposal was civilized into a test for Foucauldian theory. In short, rationalities were subsumed to rationality and so submitting to colonialism was a prerequisite for entering the core. This is how proposal became project at the University of Sussex. Revelation of true intent led to two supervisors quitting the project, and indeed a brief expulsion from the University. Another academic, Dr. Fabio Petito, frankly stated in a meeting the need for a proper IR framework, and since his proposal did not disable PCR, it was accepted. Within four years, Professor Kees van der Pijl and Sir Stephen Chan passed the project “with no corrections”. Professor van der Pijl commented that the claim to an alternative hermeneutic is IR proper. Sir Stephen enquired why the project was not activated at my undergraduate school, SOAS, and, upon learning why, said he would report my performance to his dissenting colleague. The heady pleasure of completion, heightened by champagne, was punctured within minutes by an IR academic commenting: “What?! … Not even any spelling mistakes?” It was the final instance of routine, everyday neo-colonialism. Prior to completion, the project was selected for publication by a core academic publisher who stated his ideal book is about lesbian terrorists murdering white men. In other words, the project arrived at the cusp of publication by manoeuvring around and ignoring neo-colonialism, which was trumped by capitalism and profit.
Since publication, five years have elapsed, during which the monograph has been reviewed, criticised, and utilised over thirty times by academia and the media. In comparing favourably with the average citation count of approximately twelve for “authentic homegrown” work, it appears the monograph is dissolving the colonialism of core-periphery interaction. A slim but solid track between monograph and core is evident in that it understands, welcomes, and utilises PCR. The contrast with 2005 is interaction without dissimulation. The core’s openness to revision is apparent in reviews of the book. Professor Ian Hall’s review in Australia’s Asian Studies Review finds the monograph “extraordinary,” notes PCR requires “considerable persistence and high-level intervention,” that “specialists in the field set aside practically all the assumptions that underpin our understanding of international relations,” and that: “Each of the latter chapters could have been books in themselves.” Hall also incisively writes that more can be made of the data, “fascinating for what they reveal … about the social contexts” that make India and its denizens into “individuals wrestling with” entrenched poverty, superficialities, misogyny, and racism.
Colonialism’s waning in the core of cores is attested to by the United States’ Association of College and Research Libraries stating, “few are as determined or as ambitious” as the author and that the “effort is commendable and bold”. Singapore’s The Straits Times concurs. The Round Table’s reviewer writes the book is, “highly rewarding … raises fascinating questions … about diplomacy … the very idea of modernity [and] will be a critical resource for scholars and practitioners everywhere.” The Sage Handbook of Diplomacy notes that the book does “retrieve the non-Eurocentric origins of diplomacy, to illustrate how mythical principles of negotiating a unified cosmos offered valuable diplomatic principles before, during, and after the colonization of India.” An article in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy agrees, as does a monograph by OUP New York. Furthermore, scholars endorse PCR by using its facts about, for instance, Mughal diplomacy to support the idea of rationalities rather than rationality. The track cutting through the Anglosphere’s colonialism extends to the Francosphere with a review in Politique étrangère, and PCR is recommended in Sciences Po’s, Manuel de diplomatie. The core also enforces its openness on the periphery that is Pakistan, where the author’s failure to secure a review is dramatically overturned by an Englishman, Dr. David Taylor. All of this is presaged by Canada’s Pacific Affairs’, to use colonialism’s metric, “ethnic” reviewer with ancestors from the periphery writing that PCR is “a highly original formulation [which] demonstrates clearly the need for IR scholars to venture into unfamiliar theoretical and methodological terrains.”
Interaction also results in preclusion, but this violence is not colonialism when the integrity of rationalities is maintained, as it is when PCR’s facts service core academic work on kinship, neo-institutionalism, and surveys. Preclusion’s violence is colonialism when unreflective usage shatters integrity. It is smashed in a core academic book attributing the monograph to a “patriotic desire,” because the presumption is the author mimics European nationalism and so, too, rationality. Another instance of such violence is to use the book to state that Indian rationality utilises European institutions to make for “hybridity”; regardless of this sentiment being repeated in journals, it is disproved by the book detailing comprehensive appropriation and subsummation of Mughals and their diplomatic apparatus by the British. PCR’s results are also precluded by being harnessed to a hunt for great power, which constitutes colonialism since there is no evidence that India seeks unity. Accounting for these preclusions might be a lack of understanding, but colonialism lurks beneath. Instructive was the comment, “I was reading your work again, but it’s too theoretical,” because the speaker is an ethic-Indian theorist of Indian IR. He epitomises what passes for the periphery’s engagement with theory, or for that matter, fact: months later he published, blissfully unaware that his use of PCR’s facts refutes his mimicry of rationality, that India seeks to be a great power.
Evidently the core is open to revision, but the periphery responds with violence ranging from disengagement and sabotage to occlusion via instrumentalism. Moreover, that the periphery is consistently the source of all opposition signals colonialism is untethered to the core and that if it flows, it is from the periphery. For instance, while the core reviewed, the periphery refused. An instance is India’s Economic and Political Weekly (EPW). A new editor, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, was amenable to reviewing the book but his attacks on the powerful, industrial, Adani Group resulted in his removal by the academic Romila Thapar colluding and working hand-in-glove with the Adanis. The colonialism undergirding action was visible in that EPW finally acquiesced to a review, but only at the prompting of a reviewer who is indisputably of the core, Trinity College Cambridge’s Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, Samita Sen. That colonialism drives the periphery and explains why the book was not reviewed is reinforced by Professor Sen’s call for the book to be read by the academy beyond IR. That colonialism is a peripheral quality is further reiterated in the three peripheral scholars, that is, located in the periphery, who were commissioned by three core journals to write reviews neither delivering nor explaining, which suggests sabotage. This is active in the case of the review commissioned by the core IR journal Political Studies Review, for the review is subverted by a periphery reviewer studiously avoiding evaluation and thus occluding. Compounding this is the error of presumption, imposition, and everything but PCR, evident from the outset in the reviewer imposing his Hindustani meaning upon the “K” in my name.
The periphery is also where the only academic dismissal of PCR arose from a scholar who is, and this is perhaps not incidental, an immigrant to the core. Thornstein Veblen who himself was an immigrant to the core, noted that immigrant scholars dismiss what they leave behind so to fit into their new homelands. In the case of PCR, Veblen’s insight does not make for a correlation, but does suggest an instrumental form of colonialism, for the book was rejected to entrap rationalities in rationality and so to forward integration of the peripheral scholar into the core. This is also suggested by another scholar, also an immigrant, noting the book in a journal but attributing it in another journal not to the puzzle at the core of the book but to a will to create “Indian IR” which yet again highlights intent as maintaining colonialism by containing rationalities within rationality. Related is occlusion in reverse, or maintaining colonialism but with India on top, which accounts for tensions in a media review by a possible immigrant. However, these flows of colonialism need not be permanent. An “ethnic,” and thus relative to the immigrant, integrated scholar, used in an academic monograph PCR’s conclusion that Mahatma Gandhi influences Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy to argue that this constitutes an intellectual line from the Mahabharata to the Non-Aligned Movement. The claim’s significance lies in it breaking peripheral colonialism which concocts – because it contradicts everything each said about the other – that Nehru’s usage of Gandhi is instrumental in an effort to impose rationality. There is also occlusion not by colonialism but by self-imposed methodological limits in a journal article, and in a memoire, but it was colonialism which made for a former Indian Foreign Minister’s and a Foreign Secretary’s occlusion in their reviews.
The periphery’s novel combinations of violence crescendo in hysteria only because of another iteration of the core’s waning colonialism: the commissioning of a review beyond IR in Philosophy East and West. Once again, the periphery reviewer subverted the review, using it instrumentally to redirect the reader to his research agenda. Instrumentalism accounts for occlusion, but only colonialism accounts for the reviewer’s conspicuous violence obvious in, for instance, the virulence of the assertion that “the book is poorly written in terms of logic of arguments and development of thoughts in a systematic and coherent way”. Along with other such assertions, what emerges is that at issue is rationalities, which the reviewer submerges for rationality and so mandates colonialism, whose inevitable violence comes to personify the reviewer. This reviewer must act so for he accepts rationality but its inventor, the core, deems rationality is a derivative in the periphery because it mimics. That ensures perpetual insecurity, twice over, for the reviewer. He must constantly educate himself about the core since it changes constantly, which in turn also entails constant vigilance of slippage, revealing what he was before becoming rational. The need for both is directly enhanced by the book unveiling the periphery for what it is and doing so in embarrassing detail, evident in the practice of keeping “secrecy” and about what Hall, politely, calls “social contexts”. What the interaction reveals, then, is that the reviewer’s violence is to neutralise the threat of PCR from revealing the counterfeit status of the reviewer, and since he cannot, violence becomes the purpose –not just to occlude, but to erase all trace of the book. It is another replaying of his demonstrated instrumentalism, only now the instrument of violence is also the purpose.
Violence as purpose inevitably overcomes peripheral reviewers and renders them hysterical. This is apparent in another peripheral reviewer for whom, once again, it is rationalities that is at stake. This is clear in the rhetorical question of whether the book is an “elaborate hoax,” for repeated is the age-old ascribing of irrationality by the coloniser. This is, however, insufficient to safeguard the reviewer, particularly since he was an Indian diplomat, which carries the implication that he is a direct target of the book’s exposure of compromising details. Hence, the previous reviewer’s violence is necessary and rises to overcome the reviewer, for the only alternative he has is to reveal himself as counterfeit. A moderate line from the review is: “The trees that gave up their lives to get [the book] printed died meaningless deaths.” In other words, peripheral reviewers maintain colonialism to partake in rationality’s benefits, but this mandates that they are only fakes with all that it implies. Just how fraught their situation is, is exposed by PCR, heightening their precariousness. Hence, they attack.
To conclude, the book affects colonialism within the hermeneutic and in its context. The book’s efficacy is its aligning the hermeneutic with the purpose of eradicating violence and this licenses the treatment that is PCR for general usage. If deployed outside IR, PCR may stem IR’s slide into irrelevance, evident in its imports from, far exceeding its exports to, other disciplines, and which is widely known. Indeed, PCR may prove regenerative, for on offer is the generation of new theory – not as abstractions, but from PCR’s practice, and so capable of accounting, explaining, and becoming models all the more relevant for being material. PCR can even reconstitute diplomacy as an entirely new heuristic, with the potential to transform interstate relations itself. The possibilities are limitless, but they are contingent on managing the external dimension. Its core is engaging, which is suggestive in the quelling of violence by PCR, yet it incites in the periphery violence artful in circumscribing the core’s openness, but also visceral and hysterical. That renders the book’s ability to stem colonialism by overcoming preclusion and occlusion in the periphery ambivalent, at best. Yet all may not be lost, for one peripheral voice in one of the periphery’s newspapers, concludes The Making of Indian Diplomacy is a “brilliant and innovative narration”.
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