The Africanist Delusion: In Defence of the Realist Tradition and the Neo-Neo Synthesis

Casper Hendrik Claassen


In this essay, the Africanist critique of mainstream International Relations (IR) theory and the neo-neo synthesis, and in particular the realist tradition, is critically analysed. It is argued that although the Africanist critique does highlight some pertinent issues, it ultimately fails to be convincing due to, firstly, its misunderstanding of the neo-neo synthesis and the realist tradition in particular; secondly, its disregard for human nature; and thirdly, its promotion of a stance that would lead to further marginalization. It is posited that although Africanists perceive globalisation as Westernisation – and Americanisation to be more specific – and interpret the aforementioned as essentially echoing the Foucauldian notion of a power-knowledge nexus, their interpretation does not necessarily undermine the realist tradition, but rather substantiates it. It is concluded that the realist tradition, specifically, has not led to Africa’s marginalization – rather it is something which has been the result of mostly internal dynamics which have created external vulnerabilities.

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