Why is there no non-Western international relations theory? An introduction

Amitav Acharya, Barry Buzan

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

256 Scopus citations


In Section 1, we outline the conceptual framework, rationale, and objectives of the Special Issue. Next, we clarify what we mean by 'international relation theory (IRT)', which would serve as the basis for organizing the case studies. We then examine several possible explanations of the absence of non-Western IRT, such as the belief that Western IRT has discovered the right path to understanding international relations so as to preclude the need for other voices, the hegemonic status of Western IRT that discourages theoretical formulations by others, the 'hidden' nature of IRT in Asia, lack of resources and local conditions that discriminate against the production of IR theory, and the time lag between the West and Asia in developing theoretical writings. This is followed by our suggestions about the possible Asian Sources for IRT, including the writings of classical political, military, and religious figures, thinking, and foreign policy approach of leaders, the work of Asian scholars who have applied Western IRT to local contexts, and finally, generalizations of Asian experiences to develop concepts which can be used more widely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-312
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Relations of the Asia-Pacific
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


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