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

Amitav Acharya, Barry Buzan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


More than 40 years ago, in a provocative essay that has since become a classic in the field, Martin Wight (1966: 20) addressed the question of ‘why is there no international theory?' Wight asserted that ‘international theory, or what there is of it, is scattered, unsystematic, and mostly inaccessible to the layman’. To explain why this is so, he compared political theory with international theory. Political theory was informed by a widespread belief in the sovereign state as the highest form of political life, a belief which contributed to the lack of interest in the possibility of a world state. Whereas political theory and law were concerned with the good life featuring ‘maps of experience or systems of action within the realm of normal relationships and calculable results’, the realm of international relations could be equated with a repetitiously competitive struggle for survival, reproducing ‘the same old melodrama’.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNon-Western International Relations Theory
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives On and Beyond Asia
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781135174040
ISBN (Print)9780415474733
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 editorial selection and matter, Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan; individual chapters, the contributors.


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