Kate Schick & Amanda Russell Beattie (eds.), The Vulnerable Subject: Beyond Rationalism in International Relations (Palgrave Macmillan: 2012)

International Relations scholarship has typically engaged with vulnerability as a problem to be solved through 'rational' attempts to craft a global order marked by universality, predictability and stability. By recovering an awareness of the persistently vulnerable human subject, this book argues that we can re-engage with issues of emotion, relationality, community and history that are often excluded from the study of global politics. This collection proposes an agonistic approach to international ethics and politics, eschewing a rationalism that radically privileges white Western conceptions of the world and that actively oppresses alternative voices. The Vulnerable Subject addresses issues such as trust, judgement, climate change, identity, and post-colonial relations, allowing for a profound rethinking of one of the core driving assumptions at the heart of international politics.

Review: 'The Vulnerable Subject is a wonderful book. The volume's editors have assembled a collection of essays that collectively take the reader beyond now-familiar critiques not only of mainstream 'explanatory' IR theory, but also of rationalist normative theory. Eschewing well-worn oppositions and dichotomies, the authors challenge us to consider the implications of 'the vulnerable subject' in a wide range of theoretical and empirical positions related to global politics. If you teach or research in international relations or moral and political philosophy, this book may change the way you think about ethics, politics, your 'subject' and your self.'
— Fiona Robinson, Professor of Political Science, Carleton University, Canada

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