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International Affairs Conference: The West or the Rest? – Identity, Ideology, Institutions


Wednesday, May 1, 2024, 10:00 - 18:00


Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, D02 HH58.


Free event, booking essential

This year's RIA Standing Committee for International Affairs conference seeks to interrogate the concept of “the West” in international affairs, particularly as it relates to positioning and identity.

The current escalation of international division has come coupled with a resurgence of the use of the term “the West”. As a post-colonial nation on the edge of Europe, Ireland has historically found it relatively easy, while primarily seeing itself as a democracy and market economy, to avoid the problematic historical legacies many “Western” countries face as former imperialist powers. Ireland has maintained relatively good relations and open dialogue with the decolonized nations which constitute the so-called “global south”. Ireland has thus, until now, been spared the diplomatic problems associated with the concept of “the West” in international politics – such as the negative reaction it inspires in many non-European countries through its implied culturally exclusivist claims on “freedom and democracy” and “the international community”. Ireland’s own cultural identity has recently been further diversified by multiple multi-cultural contributions to Irish society. This adds to the complexity of how Ireland self-identifies and positions itself in a postcolonial world that still retains deeply embedded imperial identities, knowledges and international relations.


10:00am: Opening of Conference and Welcome to the RIA: Pádraig Carmody, MRIA

10:15-11:45am: Session 1: “The West and the Rest” in International Relations
Chair: Rory Montgomery, MRIA

  • M. Satish Kumar (Queens University Belfast): “Inconvenient truths, pluralism and diversity: why history and culture matter”
  • Jivanta Schottli (Dublin City University): “An Indian view of the world? Applying relationality as a lens”
  • Jan Niklas Huhn (Siegen University): “The Rest is not the West: Othering and identity formation in the Non-Aligned-Movement”

11:45am-12:00pm: Short Break

12:00-12:30pm: Keynote: Tánaiste Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence.

12:30-2:00pm: Lunch Break

2:00-3:15pm: Plenary: Naoise Mac Sweeney, author of The West: A New History of an Old Idea (W.H. Allen, 2023)
Chair: Kiri Paramore

3:15-3:30pm: Short Break

3:30-5:00pm: Session 2: Beyond the West/Rest Dichotomy: Ireland and the World 
Chair: Una Murray

  • Jon Davidann (Hawaii Pacific University): “A critique of Westernization”
  • Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain (Maynooth University): “The West, the East and the Post-Colonial Excuse”
  • Manimporok (Brown University): “The Rest, the West and the Ugly”

5:00-5:15pm: Closing Remarks: Kiri Paramore

5:15pm: The conference will be followed by a reception to launch the latest edition of Irish Studies in International Affairs.

This event is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs


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