Critique and Alternativity in International Relations

20. Gëzim Visoka (2019), ‘Critique and Alternativity in International Relations’, International Studies Review, 21(4): 678–704.

This article critically interrogates the episteme of alternativity in International Relations (IR) to rethink the purpose of critical knowledge in global politics. It questions what critical knowledge is for and whose purpose it serves. While alternativity is the very condition which has given rise to critical approaches, there is a deeply-rooted division among critical scholars on the relationship between criticality and alternativity. This article argues that alternativity provides a possibility for critical scholars to remain relevant without being affiliated with positivist logics of inquiry. In examining the potential of alternativity, the article explores three modes of alternativity in peace and conflict studies: critique-without-alternative, critique-as-alternative, and critique-with-alternative. It probes the merits and limits of the episteme of alternativity in generating new possibilities for advancing emancipatory interests and saving critical theory from losing its original transformative impetus. In the final part, the article explores future directions for rejuvenating the purpose of critique by exploring the nexus between criticality and alternativity on post-paradigmatic and practical grounds.


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