Reconceptualising Foreign Policy as Gendered, Sexualised and Racialised: Towards a Postcolonial Feminist Foreign Policy (Analysis)
How can we theorise more effectively the relationship among gender, sexuality, race and foreign policy? To explore this question, and to contribute to the nascent field of feminist foreign policy (analysis), this paper brings together two bodies of international relations (IR) literature: postcolonial feminism and post-positivist foreign policy analysis (FPA). This paper contributes a fundamental critique of both ‘conventional’ and ‘unconventional’ (namely post-positivist) FPA to demonstrate the lack of attention paid to postcolonial and feminist theories within FPA. In turn, this exposes the ways in which FPA marginalises, and renders inconsequential, the gendered, sexualised and racialised dimensions underwriting foreign policy practice and discourse. While post-positivist FPA seeks to rectify the silences that characterise ‘conventional’ and ‘unconventional’ (namely constructivist) FPA, this literature remains blind to the ways that intersecting oppressions, operating through hierarchies of social categories made possible through their naturalisation, inform the process, the production and the resultant gendered consequences of foreign policy. Moreover, while there are limited country-specific examinations (residing outside of FPA) on gender and foreign policy that offer useful insights, they are theoretically limited. Like much post-positivist feminism, these examinations privilege gender as a social category, omitting race and other markers of difference. Rather than presenting ‘gender’, ‘sexuality’ and ‘race’ as concepts only for interdisciplinary inquiry, it is propounded here that they should be seen as vital to the study and practice of foreign policy. Advancing the untested promise of a postcolonial feminist approach to FPA that (re-) centres intersectionality, (re-)instates connected histories, and (re-)configures normative orders, this paper argues that foreign policy should be re-conceptualised as gendered, sexualised and racialised. It is hoped this intervention may offer a blueprint to seriously engage with the possibility of a postcolonial feminist foreign policy approach to FPA, and to think anew about how that may be translated beyond the discipline: advocating for a symbiotic and complimentary feminist foreign and domestic policy that fundamentally challenges rather that maintains the status quo.
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