Undercurrents: Race and imperialism in international relations

How should we understand the colonial legacies that persist in modern political systems?

Audio Published 11 February 2022 55 minute listen

The murder of George Floyd in 2020 and subsequent global escalation of Black Lives Matter movements highlighted the racial inequalities that exist in the United States and beyond. In the United Kingdom and many other former colonial states these movements have come to reflect upon the ongoing legacies of empire in modern society. Today, colonial history has become a weapon in the culture wars, with some commentators arguing that it is time to ‘move on’ from feeling ashamed of our imperial past.

Often, this focus on race is presented as a new development. However, a new special issue published by the Chatham House journal International Affairs (celebrating its centenary year in 2022) shows that race and imperialism have underpinned western social sciences since the birth of these disciplines in the early 20th century.  

In this episode, Amrit is joined by Dr Jasmine Gani, Dr Jenna Marshall to discuss the key insights from the special issue. They explore how race and imperialism were written out of the study of International Relations for many decades, and what it would take to meaningfully decolonise political science in the future. Then Mariana speaks with Katrin Antweiler about her article in the special issue, which looks at the culture of Holocaust memorialization in South Africa.