Cosmopolitan education pursues global justice through the cultivation of global citizens, fostering understanding and respect through contact with alternative beliefs and customs. However, the critical engagement it promotes tends too much towards the rationalist prescription of more, and better, knowledge of the other and fails to interrogate the roots of misrecognition. The form of recognition employed by this approach is an impoverished conception that fails to capture the ongoing struggle, ambiguity, and recognition offers a provocative challenge to cosmopolitan education. Where cosmopolitan education pursues emancipation through the positive production of cosmopolitan citizens, an agonistic approach advocates ‘an education towards critical self-reflection’. This unsettling pedagogy offers a radical challenge to mainstream and cosmopolitan education and, more broadly, to dominant liberal capitalist norms. It cannot co-exist with societal desires for certainty, self-preservation, and invulnerability; indeed, one its foremost ‘tasks’ is to challenge the deeply rooted ignorance and indifference that pervade modern society and that spring from a fear of recognition. In so doing, this approach promotes a counter-cultural embrace of ambiguity, vulnerability, and love.
Recognition and Global Politics examines the potential and limitations of the discourse of recognition as a strategy for reframing justice and injustice within contemporary world affairs. Drawing on resources from social and political theory and international relations theory, as well as feminist theory, postcolonial studies and social psychology, this ambitious collection explores a range of political struggles, social movements and sites of opposition that have shaped certain practices and informed contentious debates in the language of recognition.
Over the past two decades, critical debates and insights within philosophy, sociology and political theory have focused on the concept of recognition. However, while the literature on recognition has had a significant impact within social and political theory delimited to the ‘self-contained’ space of the territorially-bounded state, it has been comparatively neglected in international political theory. Only recently has recognition begun to move from being a marginal concern for theorists of international politics to a more prevalent current of thought. In this chapter, we concentrate, first, on sketching the tradition of Hegelian recognition inaugurated in the early nineteenth century and, second, on some of the main extensions and transformations of this tradition throughout the late twentieth century and the outset of the twenty-first. We then explore why and how bringing the political theory of recognition into dialogue with international political theory can enrich our understanding of a host of issues within international, global or world politics. The final section presents the three core themes explored in this volume, and provides an overview of the essays that follow.