WISC-IRIIS Exploratory Workshop: Alternative Cosmologies and Knowledge Systems in International Relations


PhISO will join the 2nd exploratory workshop on “Alternative Cosmologies and Knowledge Systems in International Relations” organized by the World International Studies Committee (WISC) and by the Institute for Research on India and International Studies (IRIIS). It will be held on 11-13 January 2016 in New Delhi, India. PhISO will be represented by Nassef whose research proposal was accepted by the review panel. In addition, he will lobby PhISO ‘s application for membership to WISC before formal discussion takes place in Atlanta, USA on March 2016. See the results of the first exploratory workshop here.

Delhi Group: A Forum for International Relations in the Global South

Theorizing in the International Relations discipline remains a Global North (mainly North America and Western Europe) enterprise that continues to be the primary knowledge-, especially theory-producing hub shaping its foundational parameters and key problematiques. Many, if not most, alternate intellectual formulations, concepts and tools offered by scholars from the Global South are de-valued on account of being ‘metaphysical’, ‘spiritual’, or, at best alternative ‘belief systems’ – none of which meet the ultimate gold standards of rationality and scientific spirit – or, largely as a source of knowledge about local realities, but never of theory and hence considered as ‘second class’.

A central premise of the Delhi Group is that the world is indeed home to different cosmologies with diverse knowledge systems and, each of these may have different ways of knowing and, often these are indeed constitutive of different realities. The Delhi Group seeks to work with scholars who are trying to think through ways of doing IR differently, which may well entail stepping out of the precincts of IR to engage with other disciplines and other ways of knowing realities.

The Delhi Group aims to:

  • Critically interrogates both epistemological and ontological standpoints for knowledge creation in International Relations, with due recognition to the inherent multiplicity of ontologies.
  • Draws upon the historical pasts of different civilizations including the Indian, the Chinese, the Egyptian, the Aztec, the Maya or the Inca located in the Global South or, those located in the recessive margins of the Global North such as the Aboriginal and Indigenous people of the North and South Americas and Australia, for devising new (alternate?) knowledge practices in International Relations.
  • Explores ways to expose, unravel and, possibly transform the deeply embedded practices of ‘othering’ in International Relations that work through inscribing a whole range of binaries such as ‘men versus native’, ‘men versus women’, ‘white (wo)man versus black (wo)man’ to ‘reason versus belief’, ‘objective versus subjective’, ‘order versus chaos’, north vs south and ‘primitive’ vs ‘modern’—all of which are cast in an explicit or implicit hierarchy where the ‘self’ or the first category is privileged, most often also de-legitimizing the ‘other’.

The Delhi Group was convened by Professor Navnita Chadha Behera and Professor Gunther Hellmann on 09-14 January 2016 as part of the WISC-IRIIS Exploratory Workshops held at the India International Centre in New Delhi. It was organized by the International Research on India and International Studies (IRIIS) and sponsored by the World International Studies Committee (WISC) and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIS).

Professor Peter Vale coined the title ‘Delhi Group: A Forum for IR in the Global South‘ and his thoughts about the workshop is available at e-IR. Please click here to read his insightful essay entitled Neglected Yarns and New Beginnings: A Delhi Diary.

Attached here is the overall report about the workshops written by Prof. Navnita Chadha Behera, one of the lead conveners of the Delhi Group.

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