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Liberal International theory: Eurocentric but not always Imperialist?

Hall, Martin LU and Hobson, John (2010) In International Theory 2(2). p.210-245
Abstract
This article has two core objectives: first to challenge the conventional

understanding of liberal international theory (which we do by focussing specifically on classical liberalism) and second, to develop much further postcolonialism’s conception of Eurocentrism. These twin objectives come together insofar as we argue that classical liberalism does not always stand for anti-imperialism/noninterventionism given that significant parts of it were Eurocentric and proimperialist. But we also argue that in those cases where liberals rejected imperialism they did so not out of a commitment to cultural pluralism, as we are conventionally told, but as a function of either a specific Eurocentric or a scientific racist stance. This, in... (More)
This article has two core objectives: first to challenge the conventional

understanding of liberal international theory (which we do by focussing specifically on classical liberalism) and second, to develop much further postcolonialism’s conception of Eurocentrism. These twin objectives come together insofar as we argue that classical liberalism does not always stand for anti-imperialism/noninterventionism given that significant parts of it were Eurocentric and proimperialist. But we also argue that in those cases where liberals rejected imperialism they did so not out of a commitment to cultural pluralism, as we are conventionally told, but as a function of either a specific Eurocentric or a scientific racist stance. This, in turn, means that Eurocentrism can be reduced neither to

scientific racism nor to imperialism. Thus while we draw on postcolonialism and its critique of liberalism as Eurocentric, we find its conception of Eurocentrism (and hence its vision of liberalism) to be overly reductive. Instead we differentiate four variants of ‘polymorphous Eurocentrism’ while revealing how two of these rejected imperialism and two supported it. And by revealing how classical liberalism was embedded within these variants of Eurocentrism so we recast the conventional interpretation. In doing so, we bring to light the ‘protean career of polymorphous liberalism’ as it crystallizes in either imperialist or anti-imperialist forms as a function of the different variants of Eurocentrism within which it is embedded. Finally, because two of these variants underpin modern liberalism

(as discussed in the Conclusions) so we challenge international relations scholars to rethink their conventional understanding of both classical- and modern-liberalism, as much as we challenge postcolonialists to rethink their conception of Eurocentrism. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
liberalism, racism, Eurocentrism/Orientalism, interventionism/noninterventionism, imperialism/anti-imperialism, postcolonialism
in
International Theory
volume
2
issue
2
pages
210 - 245
publisher
Cambridge University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:77955766370
ISSN
1752-9719
DOI
10.1017/S1752971909990261
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a3ea6d0e-a39d-4633-85f2-a7afc95dfa92 (old id 1611978)
date added to LUP
2010-06-03 14:27:52
date last changed
2018-07-01 03:02:57
@article{a3ea6d0e-a39d-4633-85f2-a7afc95dfa92,
  abstract     = {This article has two core objectives: first to challenge the conventional<br/><br>
understanding of liberal international theory (which we do by focussing specifically on classical liberalism) and second, to develop much further postcolonialism’s conception of Eurocentrism. These twin objectives come together insofar as we argue that classical liberalism does not always stand for anti-imperialism/noninterventionism given that significant parts of it were Eurocentric and proimperialist. But we also argue that in those cases where liberals rejected imperialism they did so not out of a commitment to cultural pluralism, as we are conventionally told, but as a function of either a specific Eurocentric or a scientific racist stance. This, in turn, means that Eurocentrism can be reduced neither to <br/><br>
scientific racism nor to imperialism. Thus while we draw on postcolonialism and its critique of liberalism as Eurocentric, we find its conception of Eurocentrism (and hence its vision of liberalism) to be overly reductive. Instead we differentiate four variants of ‘polymorphous Eurocentrism’ while revealing how two of these rejected imperialism and two supported it. And by revealing how classical liberalism was embedded within these variants of Eurocentrism so we recast the conventional interpretation. In doing so, we bring to light the ‘protean career of polymorphous liberalism’ as it crystallizes in either imperialist or anti-imperialist forms as a function of the different variants of Eurocentrism within which it is embedded. Finally, because two of these variants underpin modern liberalism<br/><br>
(as discussed in the Conclusions) so we challenge international relations scholars to rethink their conventional understanding of both classical- and modern-liberalism, as much as we challenge postcolonialists to rethink their conception of Eurocentrism.},
  author       = {Hall, Martin and Hobson, John},
  issn         = {1752-9719},
  keyword      = {liberalism,racism,Eurocentrism/Orientalism,interventionism/noninterventionism,imperialism/anti-imperialism,postcolonialism},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {210--245},
  publisher    = {Cambridge University Press},
  series       = {International Theory},
  title        = {Liberal International theory: Eurocentric but not always Imperialist?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1752971909990261},
  volume       = {2},
  year         = {2010},
}