Global assemblages and structural models of international relations

Corry, Olaf (2013). Global assemblages and structural models of international relations. In: Acuto, Michele and Curtis, Simon eds. Reassembling International Theory: Assemblage Thinking and International Relations. Palgrave Pivot. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 48–57.



Rather than consigning assemblages to the micro-politics of international relations, this chapter argues that assemblage-thinking, although rooted in a deep skepticism of grand theory, could also be useful for re-imagining structure and particularly models of structure in international relations. IR theories of structure usually model how subjects are ordered vis a vis each other – hierarchically, anarchically, in core-periphery relations or in terms of networks, to name the most common ones. But what if not only subjects but also assemblages – the bringing together of previously unconnected elements into novel constellations – play a critical role in structuring international relations. The idea of considering an ordering principle that begins methodologically from the object of politics has not been much considered. More specifically, in the following I suggest that one particular kind of assemblages – those constructed as governable and become central to governing actors which I refer to as ‘governance-objects’ – is central to understanding the structure of international relations beyond a post-Waltzian frame. Bringing the objects of global politics centre stage, I argue that polities are constituted, not by the emergence of a hierarchy, but by the emergence of a common governance-object that structures political practices.

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