Levels of Reading

With these multiple objectives in mind, the contributions to this volume work in three directions that suggest three levels of reading which I now would like to briefly expose, rather than presenting the formal structure of the book. A first possible line of reading explores the ways in which Foucault’s methods of historical inquiry might help in the study of contemporary social and political phenomena or problems identified with the International. For example, what does an archaeological study of terrorism, the global or the milieu tell us about “transnational violence,” “globalization” or the “environmental issue”?

Second, through various themes and concepts such as “modernity,” “sovereignty,” “liberalism,” “human capital,” “biopolitics” and “globalization,” another possible line of reading suggests consideration more specifically of the contributions, and potential limits of foucauld- ian approach(es) for the problematization and understanding of the modern International. The question here is: what is the impact of foucauldian approaches on how so-called the international phenomena have been isolated, identified and eventually construed as objects of knowledge?

Third, the contributions to this volume offer to revisit Foucault’s thought and to put it to the test of the multiple ways in which it has been appropriated since the 1980s in IR and beyond. A slightly different question underpins this third possible line of reading: how can Foucault’s concepts be reconfigured, his lines of inquiry re-oriented and his theoretical practices specified once they have proved to be unfruitful in our own investigations of a given phenomenon?

With these three possible levels of reading, this volume not only suggests other “types of knowledge,” modes of inquiries and practices of theorization for the study of the International taken as a problem for thought but it also seeks to interrogate four of the most taken for granted features of our contemporary world: “international” (Part III), “(neo) liberal” (Part IV), “biopolitical” (Part V) and “global” (Part VI), with the hope of refining our capacity to diagnose our challenging times.

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