ASTK15490U SEMINAR: Re-Orienting International Relations: Asian Perspectives on World Politics

Volume 2017/2018

Elective course in the specialization "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"

Elective course III at "Security Risk Management"

The course is open to all master students


It is widely believed that the center of gravity in world politics is shifting from West to East. The ‘rise of Asia’ represents one of the greatest challenges to International Relations in our time. As Asian countries are ‘rising’, the future of the so-called ‘liberal order’, global governance, international institutions and Western values is increasingly being questioned. The world order instated by the United States and the victors of World War II in institutions such as the UN Security Council, WTO, IMF and the World Bank is under pressure for change. Collectives of emerging powers, such as the BRICS, have called for a reform and democratization of these institutions of global governance to give the global South a greater voice. The Western world has tragic historical experiences with the effects of such dramatic redistributions of power on peace, order and stability. Traditional Western IR theories are thus skeptical that changes of the existing world order, and power transitions in general, can be peaceful. Meanwhile, Asian scholars have criticized existing theories for being Eurocentric, US-biased and the tools of Western hegemony. Instead, Asian scholars have recently been engaged in debates over the construction of indigenous theories, such as Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Korean schools of International Relations. This course explores these burgeoning Asian ideas, concepts and theories on International Relations. In other words, it offers a perspective on the rise of Asia from Asia. It does so by first introducing the debate between advocates of Asian schools of International Relations and their critics. Next, the course goes through specific conceptual innovations order, justice, power, security, culture. 


The course is expected to be structured according to the following headlines:

  1. Introduction
  2. International Relations Around the World: Asian Schools
  3. International Relations Around the World: Critiques
  4. Epistemology and Theory
  5. Order and Hierarchy
  6. Justice and Morality
  7. Power and Power Transitions
  8. Peace and Conflict
  9. Security and Alliances
  10. Political Economy
  11. Governance and Rule
  12. Culture and Identity
  13. Strategies and Policies
  14. Conclusion
Learning Outcome


Upon completion of the course, students will be able familiar with the major debates on Asian Schools of International Relations. They will demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the dilemmas involved in theorizing ‘beyond the West’. Specifically, they will obtain concrete knowledge on how Asian scholars aim to contribute to key IR concepts such as order, justice, power, security, culture, governance, and strategy. They will be able to describe and present how these theories and concepts differ from mainstream Western IR.



Students will be able to apply one or more of these Asian conceptual frameworks in the analysis of rising Asian powers and their foreign and security policies as well as other cases in International Relations.

On the basis of this, students will be able to reflect on the usefulness and applicability of the different approaches. They will be able to make informed, analytical evaluations of these Asian theories of International Relations and their principal critics. They will be able to identify and evaluate how such an analysis differs from one based on mainstream Western theories. They will be able to communicate knowledge about Asian IR in a systematic and coherent way.



Students will be able to identify the challenges that Asian thought poses to existing Western frameworks and to think outside the usual social science categories of the Western tradition. They will be able to think critically about questions of the universality of IR theories and the possibilities for different geocultural epistemologies. With a deepened insight into Asian perspectives on IR, students will gain competences that will put them in better position to reflect upon the challenges of a post-western world order. This  and to formulate better strategies and policies.

Most readings will be available online but it is recommended to acquire the following book:  Arlene Tickner and Ole Wæver (eds.). 2009. International Relations Scholarship Around the World. London: Routledge. We will also read several chapters from a special issue in the journal International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, available online and in book format: Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan, eds. 2010. Non-Western International Relations Theory. Abingdon: Routledge.


A final reading plan of 900 pages will be uploaded before course start.

Basic education in International Relations
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individuel written assignment
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment

Passed/Not passed