Much of the postcolonial/non-Eurocentric literature that has emerged in recent years has concluded that the key antidote to Eurocentrism lies with the need to factor Eastern agency into our theoretical and empirical understandings/ explanations of world politics/economics. While I certainly endorse this proposition, we need, however, to be aware that Eastern agency is already a factor in much, though not all, of Eurocentric international theory. Hence we confront the “postcolonial paradox of Eastern agency”- that while the perceived postcolonial/ non Eurocentric antidote to Eurocentrism/ Orientalism is to “bring Eastern agency in” nevertheless it turns out that it was there in some form or another within international theory all along. This article reveals the different forms that Eastern agency takes within different variants of Eurocentric international theory while simultaneously opening up this concept to its multiple variants, thereby taking us beyond Edward Said’s monolithic conception of Orientalism that he bequeathed to postcolonialism.
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