From the international to the intersocietal: Inclusion of the indigenous and tribal Paper

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In contemporary debates in the academic discipline of International Relations (IR), there has been a shift from use of the term ‘international’ to that of the ‘intersocietal’. This has been motivated by a desire to move away from the discipline’s traditional preoccupation with security and state agency, towards a focus on interaction between societies more broadly conceived with a focus on the causal dimension that the existence of many societies and their interaction generates. What this debate has not yet questioned is the discipline’s habit to equate ‘society’ with ‘state’. If focus is shifted from IR’s traditional preoccupation with security and state agency to intersocietal interaction more generally, then there is little justification for a continued exclusive focus on the state and the states-system as units of analysis. For the move from ‘international’ to ‘intersocietal’ to be truly meaningful, it entails a move beyond state centrism. The reality of global politics is already expressing such a shift with increasing recognition of non-state entities like tribal and indigenous peoples through declarations, institutions and covenants like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO 169, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. IR theory should lead the way in providing conceptual tools on how to facilitate the move towards a more intersocietal- rather than inter-state -world instead of lagging behind the reality with its continued state centrism. To this end, IR theory should be made capable of perceiving non-state forms of territoriality, like the fluid and non-exclusive territorial practices of open range pastoralists. Enrique Dussel’s Philosophy of Liberation provides a useful conceptual toolset from where to begin to envision a genuinely intersocietal world. His point of departure is the concept of ‘exteriority’, which draws attention to whatever has been marginalised by a given ontological system. In the context of IR, the standard ontological framework would be the states-system, and the exterior would be the world to tribes, indigenous peoples and other non-state social formations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 6 Sep 2017
EventECPR General Conference - University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 9 Sep 2017 → …


ConferenceECPR General Conference
Period9/09/17 → …
Internet address


  • International relations, intersocietal, indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples rights, philosophy of liberation, Enrique Dussel, uneven and combined development

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