A while ago I was asked by Millennium Journal of International Studies to review a line up of amazing works:
- Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016, 175 pp).
- Gloria Wekker, White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016, 226 pp.).
- Robbie Shilliam and Lisa Tilley (eds.), Special Issue: Raced Markets, New Political Economy 23, no. 5 (2018): 531–639).
- Brenna Bhandar, Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018, 265 pp.).
- Aaron Kamugisha, Beyond Coloniality. Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019, 264 pp.).
It was both a joyful and a daunting task. How to review the spectacular? So I opted for the most honest approach I could think of, an itinerant narrative approach of ‘the autobiographical example’.
This review essay is a generative reading of four monographs and one special issue to rethink the discipline of International Relations (IR) and its syllabus anticolonially. At the centre of White Innocence by Gloria Wekker, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, by Christina Sharpe, The Colonial Lives of Property by Brenna Bhandar, Beyond Coloniality by Aaron Kamugisha and the New Political Economy special issue titled Raced Markets edited by Robbie Shilliam and Lisa Tilley are issues of race and racism, neoliberalism and capital and (the afterlives of) colonisation and slavery. This essay deploys a narrative approach of the autobiographical example to write the themes and arguments of the works onto the international everyday, i.c. a period of five months (April- September 2019) and the five places (Toronto, Stellenbosch, (New) England, Ghana and Puerto
Rico) in which these works were read. First, the themes of racism, capitalism and coloniality – to varying degrees disavowed and erased in both IR as a discipline and public opinion – appear as persistent, pervasive yet adapting across time, space and situatedness. Second, both the autobiographical examples and the works point at the equally omnipresent cracks in the system and invite reflection on anticolonial alternatives (of solidarity). In conclusion, the essay explores how these works could inform reconceptualisation of the IR syllabus, towards a discipline that engages with the world rather than itself, against the colonial status quo.