Abusing History: A Critical Analysis of Mainstream International Relations Theory Misconduct

Par Anne-Marie D’Aoust
Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques | UQAM

In Political Science, the discipline of IR has been widely regarded as an “American Science” ever since Stanley Hoffman published his renowned essay in 1977. This “American Science” is dominated by a single theoretical approach – that of Neorealism – which relies primarily on the concept of historical recurrence to ground its arguments. Other “new” theoretical approaches which challenge this parochialism, namely feminism, constructivism and Critical Theory, remain outside the “official boundaries” of the field. These boundaries are largely set by the Neorealist agenda and its variations, which rarely diverge from an unquestioned central rationalist-empiricist theme. Thus, with respect to its methodological and epistemological stance, Neorealist theory implicitly views History as a vast field of objective data and primary sources ready to reveal their truth to the social scientist. To test and/or prove the validity of Neorealist theory in the field of International Relations, one must refer to historical data and confront theory with “straight facts”. What I propose to do here is to analyze the ways in which the Neorealist approach to International Relations makes use of history, and subsequently to consider some crucial epistomological and theoretical debates in the field of History that are ignored by Neorealists like Waltz.

ISBN : 2-922844-41-2
Novembre 2004
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