InHouse&Guests Workshop

Sufism as an Alternative Philosophical Foundation for a Global International Relations Theory

16–17 October 2017
The primary challenge facing the academic discipline of International Relations (IR) today is how to make it more inclusive by expanding its theoretical foundations beyond Eurocentric scientific biases. One of the most commonly treated pathways to address the widely recognized Eurocentric biases has been the initiation of intellectual efforts toward the incorporation of non-Western worldviews. However, the greater assimilation of knowledge produced by non-Western scholars from local philosophical-experiential vantage points – for instance, the integration of Chinese, Indian, or Brazilian outlooks often expressed under the rubric ‘non-Western IR’ – cannot make IR less Eurocentric or more ‘Global’ if the following slippery grounds are overlooked: (i) if non-Western IR theories employ non-Western philosophical resources for involuntarily generating a derivative discourse of the same Western/Eurocentric IR theories, thereby failing to produce fresh insights that could transcend the conjectural boundaries of Western/Eurocentric IR; (ii) if non-Western IR theories deliberately manufacture an exceptionalist discourse which is specifically applicable to the narrow experiential realities of a native time-space zone, thereby failing to put forward a universalist explanation that grants a broad-spectrum relevance to Western/Eurocentric IR.

In the light of these realizations, the Workshop intended to investigate if Sufism, as an established philosophy with a grand temporal-spatial spread across the globe, is capable of conquering the above-mentioned slippery grounds. The Workshop revolved around the following threefold attribute of Sufism as an exploratory base for considering a non-Eurocentric Global IR theory: (i) epistemological monism, (ii) ontological immaterialism and (iii) methodological eclecticism. Since no IR theory can make a legitimate competing claim about reality until and unless it is measured against evidence, the multi-disciplinary team of Sufi researchers that participated in the Workshop substantiated their theoretical discussions with the historical and lived experiences of Sufi politics in Asia, Africa, America and Europe.