Karen Smith's International Relations Theory

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SUMMARY Karen Smith in her article “Has Africa got anything to say” wanted to basically address the rising criticism of how the developing world and in particular Africa has been neglected in International Relations theory. She attempts to go beyond the criticism by addressing concerns of how the developing world can make contributions which are potentially vital in enriching people’s understanding of IR. She highlights how the existent Western knowledge is seen in many parts of the globe in a superior manner. The article also speaks of how the interest of enriching the western knowledge by the indigenous knowledge has not extended to the field of International Relations. The author goes on to explain in detail the meaning of African knowledge…show more content…
It is made clear in the text that the colonial period provided a platform of widespread western influence. Commentators in the field have argued that the western knowledge was imposed on Africans via the colonial era and that all African knowledge has since then become a reflection of it. The author when talking about what stories Africa can contribute cites a renowned scholar by stating that the current IR theories which are American and British have dominated the field of IR that they can no longer be thought of as just stories. The objective according to the author is to now challenge the dominance of these stories and reclaim space for other stories, which in this case includes African stories. In the test there are ways highlighted of how to tell the stories and how they can be of a great deal to the IR fraternity. In conclusion the text talks of how the contribution from the lived experience of Africa is important to provide a view of international relations and international politics from bottoms up. There is emphasis put on the need to acknowledge Africa’s contribution in IR theory because it can provide a different perspective. The most important position set out in the article therefore is that Africa has a lot to contribute and IR scholars should take it into account so as to enhance their understanding of international…show more content…
When one examines the existing IR theories, it becomes quite evident that Africa is rarely given accreditation. For example when you look at the foundations to international relations the founding fathers all hail from Europe e.g. Karl Marx, Maxx Webber, Hans Morgenthau, Thomas Hobbes etc. What I found interesting in the article is the way the author strongly believes that knowledge from the non western world can influence the West. This when one goes back to the colonial period and remembers how the Africans fought for their independence; there is a high chance that Africa can make a huge contribution in the current global system. The author however did not highlight the hindrances as to why Africa is still lagging behind. For example poor leadership, civil wars, underdevelopment, poverty, overpopulation etc are some among the many problems that Africa faces. The findings from the author are presented clearly but she omitted the facts behind the whole question as to whether Africa has a say in the international system. However the results presented in the article are convincing in that there is evidence of examples of Africa’s potential in terms of resources and knowledge

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