Conceptual debates in IR and the spectre of polysemy: Intralingual challenges and the promise of translation

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This chapter engages with challenges of intralingual translation within the area of International Relations meta-theory. Currently, most contributions to IR meta-theory assume a communicative environment that allows for unambiguous and straight-forward exchanges. As intuitively convincing as this assumption might be, a closer look at the current debates within IR meta-theory paints a different picture. While the subfield of meta-theory has expanded considerably over the last 20 years or so, debates seem to become increasingly diversified and heterogenous. The by now apparent polysemy of key terminology and the multivocality of its contributions raise questions regarding the nature of communication within IR meta-theory to the point where the role and nature of intralingual translation should become a central concern.
This chapter sets out to engage with this intralingual challenge for meta-theorising and proceeds in three steps: Firstly, it develops the content of a perspective that sees translation as transformation and establishes the particular angle from which it commences. Secondly, it shows how such a perspective resonates within IR meta-theory and how current practices fall short of recognising the intralingual translational challenges in meta-theoretical practice. Finally, we move to an assessment of the benefits and contributions a translational perspective can bring to our understanding and practice of meta-theorising.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of Translation in International Relations
EditorsZeynep Gulash Capan, Filipe dos Reis, Maj Grasten
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9783030568856
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2021


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