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 this chapter, I address the problem of paternalism in the ethics of care through a consideration of the idea of recognition. Discourses and practices of ‘care ‘ in international politics have been used regularly to justify paternalistic acts of domination through the use structural and physical violence – in the treatment of indigenous peoples, the ‘protection’ of women and children in warfare, and in the practices of contemporary humanitarianism, including humanitarian interventions. This suggests the need to ensure the ‘other-regarding’ nature of care involves not only acting to address the needs of the other, but acting to recognize the other as a person in her own right. I argue that, in contrast to much of the literature on justice as recognition, which emphasizes the need for powerful or dominant voices to ‘recognize’ the ways of life of marginal groups, ‘recognition’ in the context of globalized relations of care must involve an unsettling of the categories of those who ‘bestow’ care and recognition, and those who receive them. I develop an approach to transformative recognition that involves sustained analysis of the politics of representation – or what Narayan calls the ‘accounts’ that are given of the interdependencies and relationships – which are so crucial to an ethic of care.
Within political theory the concept of recognition has been generally drawn upon to develop a particular form of ethical theory. The concept has been deployed in debates over culture, feminism, multiculturalism, individual and group rights, and as a means of conceptualising colonialism. A less dominant contemporary line of inquiry is the use of the concept of recognition to think through modes of pre-capitalist and capitalist accumulation. Much of the early philosophical radicalism contained within the concept of recognition has been lost via its subsumption within liberal political theory. Against such a liberal ‘flattening-out’ of recognition this chapter builds an alternative interpretation which focuses upon the relationship between recognition and accumulation. This is done by way of examining how questions of economic power and accumulation were central G.W.F. Hegel’s theory of recognition. In this light, the chapter develops an understanding of recognition as a ‘hinge concept’ – one which links economic relations, the juridical form, moral claims and political struggle. By focusing upon its antagonistic basis, as struggle, a concept of recognition gives us a useful way of thinking about both historical and contemporary modes of global capitalist accumulation.
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.
World society has become something of a trope in International Relations (IR) theory to capture a web of relations between diverse actors operating outside the formal rubric of the state. One presupposition of world society and its cosmopolitan iterations is particularly problematic, as it concerns reciprocal, inter-human recognition. Given multiple practices and instances of dehumanization and misrecognition which undermine or deny the rights and status claims of certain ‘types’ of people – or even their claim to being human in the first place – we must turn this assumptive ideal of universal recognition into a question. How, this chapter asks, is recognition cultivated if it is not automatically bestowed? The chapter explores a set of processes that aid in the constitution of inter-human recognition. Because of their socio-political ramifications, these generative processes function as a first-order practice or, in IR theoretical terms, a primary, constitutive institution of world society conceived of as an inter-human society.
Far from being necessarily divisive, recognition is integral to the construction of effective global movements against injustice. I highlight three different sites at which the politics of recognition has important roles to play: within progressive movements, between progressive movements and by progressive movements on the ‘global stage’. At these different sites, I argue, recognition politics serves both integrative and performative functions. By identifying the sites at which recognition can contribute to global struggles and explaining the functions recognition serves, I add to our understanding of ‘regimes of recognition’, offer a new perspective on the nature of and prerequisites for the recognition encounter, and illuminate the importance as well as the limitations of political institutions like the World Social Forum and campaigns like the anti-War protests of 2003.
In Charles Taylor’s seminal writings, the revival of the nineteenth-century concept of ‘recognition’ was closely connected to the birth of ‘multiculturalism’ as a public policy and normative idea. This connection has unfortunately been dissolved by continental political philosophers such as Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth who reject all group-based understandings of recognition which cannot be reduced to aspirations for individual freedom within a given state or society. Yet this individualist bias has proven to be rather unproductive in the field of international political theory. I therefore suggest returning to and clarifying the original conceptual connection between recognition and multiculturalism as a way of rethinking the relations between cultural groups, nations and states from a normative point of view. My argument in this chapter is about the question whether Taylor’s idea can be elaborated with respect to the world community of states and societies.
This chapter articulates the concept of recognition beyond its anthropocentric core. The prevailing conceptualization of recognition in International Relations (IR) relates to the collective endowment with a legal status as a legitimate participant on the world stage. This understanding draws on normative political theories of justice premised on a binary distinction between acts of acknowledgement (‘responsive model of recognition’) and acts of declaration (‘generative model of recognition’). Thus, the mutual collective recognition of and by states becomes the mechanism through which one’s participation in the international domain is validated. However, this conceptualization seems to offer little of value when it comes to IR’s recent strive to offer an inclusive account not just for the human, but also for the non-human interactions in global life. At stake is not simply the need to extend the concept of recognition beyond the agency of the state, but rather the requirement for its radical reframing ‘beyond-the-human’ into a non-anthropocentric notion. This chapter considers critically the potential for a more inclusive and encompassing understanding of recognition embedded in the reciprocity principle. The suggestion is that if the study of IR is to address meaningfully the challenges of climate change through the conceptualization of recognition, it will have to confront and reframe its anthropocentric premise.
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.