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  • Author: Dominic D.P. Johnson, Dominic Tierney
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A major puzzle in international relations is why states privilege negative over positive information. States tend to inflate threats, exhibit loss aversion, and learn more from failures than from successes. Rationalist accounts fail to explain this phenomenon, because systematically overweighting bad over good may in fact undermine state interests. New research in psychology, however, offers an explanation. The “negativity bias” has emerged as a fundamental principle of the human mind, in which people's response to positive and negative information is asymmetric. Negative factors have greater effects than positive factors across a wide range of psychological phenomena, including cognition, motivation, emotion, information processing, decision-making, learning, and memory. Put simply, bad is stronger than good. Scholars have long pointed to the role of positive biases, such as overconfidence, in causing war, but negative biases are actually more pervasive and may represent a core explanation for patterns of conflict. Positive and negative dispositions apply in different contexts. People privilege negative information about the external environment and other actors, but positive information about themselves. The coexistence of biases can increase the potential for conflict. Decisionmakers simultaneously exaggerate the severity of threats and exhibit overconfidence about their capacity to deal with them. Overall, the negativity bias is a potent force in human judgment and decisionmaking, with important implications for international relations theory and practice.
  • Topic: Political Theory, Emotions, International Relations Theory, Psychology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Maja Zehfuss, Antonio Y. Vázquez-Arroyo, Dan Bulley, Bal Sokhi-Bulley
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: Jacques Derrida delivered the basis of The Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New International as a plenary address at the conference ‘Whither Marxism?’ hosted by the University of California, Riverside, in 1993. The longer book version was published in French the same year and appeared in English and Portuguese the following year. In the decade after the publication of Specters, Derrida’s analyses provoked a large critical literature and invited both consternation and celebration by figures such as Antonio Negri, Wendy Brown and Frederic Jameson. This forum seeks to stimulate new reflections on Derrida, deconstruction and Specters of Marx by considering how the futures past announced by the book have fared after an eventful quarter century. Maja Zehfuss, Antonio Vázquez-Arroyo and Dan Bulley and Bal Sokhi-Bulley offer sharp, occasionally exasperated, meditations on the political import of deconstruction and the limits of Derrida’s diagnoses in Specters of Marx but also identify possible paths forward for a global politics taking inspiration in Derrida’s work of the 1990s.
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Political Theory, Philosophy, Decolonization, Deconstruction
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Awino Okech, Dinah Musindarwezo
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: This article reflects on transnational feminist organising by drawing on the experiences of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) during the consultations leading up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. First, we re-examine some of the debates that have shaped the field of women’s rights, feminist activism and gender justice in Africa, and the enduring legacies of these discourses for policy advocacy. Second, we analyse the politics of movement-building and the influence of development funding, and how they shape policy discourses and praxis in respect of women’s rights and gender justice. Third, we problematise the nature of transnational feminist solidarity. Finally, drawing on scholarship about transnational feminist praxis as well as activism, we distil some lessons for feminist policy advocacy across geo-political divides.
  • Topic: Globalization, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Political Theory, Women, Sustainable Development Goals, International Relations Theory, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Global Focus
  • Author: Andréa Gill, Thula Pires
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: This article proposes a re-reading of the problem of gender, or as it has been put, more often than not, ‘the woman problem,’ that resists the reproduction of modern/colonial systems of governance and their political norms, standards, ideals and pacts. In turn, it seeks to open pathways to dialogue with, rather than import, conceptions of gender that respond to the terms through which modern/colonial societies have been forged on the continent of Abya Yala, drawing inspiration from decolonial and diasporic perspectives. To this end, the article maps some of the available channels of the gender debate in what has come to be known as the global South from an array of perspectives that highlight the ways in which the relations between categories of oppression and privilege (such as race, class, sexuality and gender) are reflected and positioned so as to grapple with the coloniality of knowledge, power and being. More specifically, it focuses on three ways of dealing with power dynamics in the context of Abya Yala that have influenced how we conceive and respond to questions of gender. Its primary objective is to investigate the politico-epistemic conditions that structure gender thinking in binary and intersectional ways, and, in turn, open space for imbricated approaches forged from within (post-)colonial histories that do not take as their starting point the importation of theoretical references from places otherwise situated within a global political economy of knowledge/power/being. More than a critique of theoretical standpoints from the global North, in and of themselves, which regardless were not thought to respond to our realities, here we analyse the terms through which gender and feminisms have been put up for debate. Without effectively decentring the Eurocentred references that preoccupy gender thinking in our respective disputes, we risk continued distraction from what is at stake when gender is put on the table: the (im)possibilities of living one’s full humanity on one’s own terms.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Political Theory, Diaspora, Women, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America, Global Focus
  • Author: Amanda Álvares Ferreira
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: Marysia Zalewski is a Professor at Cardiff University, in Wales, and a renowned International Relations (IR) scholar. She has become a reference for her work with feminism and gender since the 1990s. She has published several books including The ‘Man’ Question in International Relations (edited with Jane Parpart, re-released in 2019 by Routledge), Feminist International Relations: Exquisite Corpse (2013) and Sexual Violence against Men in Global Politics edited with Paula Drumond, Elisabeth Prügl and Maria Stern (2018), among many other books and articles. Her work has brought important contributions in thinking feminist critical methodologies, as well as looking at everyday life as a productive site for empirical and theoretical analysis of how gender is implicated in international politics. She was in Rio de Janeiro for an event at the International Relations Institute of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-Rio), where she was part of two panels called ‘Rethinking the Borders between Gender and Sexuality’ and ‘The Rise of Conservatisms and the Challenges to the Women, Gender and Sexuality Agendas.
  • Topic: International Relations, Gender Issues, Political Theory, International Relations Theory, Feminism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus