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Evil, Genocide and the Limits of Recognition

This chapter explores the possibility of formulating linkages between theories of recognition and the problem of political evil by paying particular attention to the world, rather than the self or the other. The main point of departure for this analysis revolves around distinguishing between evil and non-evil harms, given a shift in emphasis from dyadic interpersonal relationships to triadic intermediations with the worldly contexts that enable recognition. I first examine some of the key features of contemporary recognition frameworks that attempt to make sense of human vulnerability and harm, and outline how these frameworks, in contrast to Hegel’s philosophy, stop short of the phenomenon of evil. I then move on to discuss how Hegel’s insight into evil as the annihilation or ‘voiding’ of a shared world at the limits of recognition opens up an alternative paradigm, informed by Hannah Arendt’s thinking, that moves recognition outward toward the third term of a common world. I finish by considering some of the ways that genocide can be said to constitute a special type of harm, appropriately considered evil, which aims at and results in the irretrievable loss of plural human worlds.

in Recognition and Global Politics
Critical encounters between state and world

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.

Meanings, Limits, Manifestations

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.

in Recognition and Global Politics