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Title: At the limit : on realism, materialism and international theory
Author: Davenport, Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 1511
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2012
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Central to Realism's framing of the international are its conception of the inside/outside structure of political form and the idea of a state of nature. This thesis provides a materialist critique of these conceptions. Its starting point is that the Marxist criticism of Realism has fallen short because Marxism in IR has constructed no theory of the political and as a result it has been unable to answer Realism's perception of the ‘tragic' and unchanging nature of international political existence. To remedy this deficiency, the thesis both establishes an alternative understanding of Marx for IR and draws upon Adorno's extension and deepening of Marxian critical theory. The argument next elaborates a reading of Marx's theory of capital that reveals a considerable degree of hitherto unappreciated thematic congruence with Realism's understanding of the international as a timeless scene of entrapment. It then mobilises Adorno's philosophical anthropology to explain this similarity, focusing on the critical accounts of abstraction in both Marx and Adorno. Finally, it uses these theoretical elements to address the question of political form directly, taking up specific aspects of Carl Schmitt's, Giorgio Agamben's and Walter Benjamin's thinking concerning sovereignty and the exception and reading them through the frame of Adorno's critique of the concept. The result is a critical theory of political form that: (i) can explain, without conceding to, the Realist conceptions both of the necessary inside/outside structure of the political and of the international as a timeless state of nature; and (ii) can demonstrate an instrinsic theoretical connection between the global nature of capital and the bounded and delimited form of the political in a way that has not been achieved before in IR.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JZ1249 Relation to other disciplines and topics