International politics of insecurity: normativity, inwardness and the exception

Huysmans, Jef (2006). International politics of insecurity: normativity, inwardness and the exception. Security Dialogue, 37(1) pp. 11–29.



This article seeks (a) to show the complexities of the concept of exception in international politics, (b) to suggest that the current politics of insecurity are not limited to a clash over the status and limits of normativity in international politics, and (c) to introduce conceptual groundwork for theorizing international politics of insecurity as a contest of the exception. By combining normative and existential concepts of exception, a conceptual matrix is introduced that distinguishes between political liberalism and realism, on the one hand, and anti-diplomatic ultrapolitical realism and liberalism, on the other. While the focus in discussions of exception is often on the tension between realist assertions of the limited validity of international norms and liberal assertions of the real capacity of international norms to constrain political power, something more complex may be going on in current international politics of insecurity. The conceptual matrix draws attention to an additional tension between those realists and liberals willing to retain common grounds for symbolic mediation in international politics and those seeking to intensify antidiplomatic inwardness.

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