Decolonizing the Anarchical Society

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Are claims for redistributive justice reconcilable with the demands for order? This question remains as significant today as it was articulated in The Anarchical Society forty years ago. This essay explores its aporetic nature against the horizon afforded by spectrality—the ghostlike presence/absence of justice in Bull’s account of the international. The problem of justice in this alternative decolonial narrative occasions three interrelated components: (1) an acknowledgement of particular (exclusionary) historical settlements that have shaped the contemporary international order; (2) recognition of racially differentiated space (or ‘coloniality’) as a durable feature of past and present international order; and (3) exposure of some of the more potent effects of differentiation on the capacity or power of (unequal) actors (sovereign states in Bull’s formulation) in the international system. In Bull’s case, it is the haunting presence/absence of coloniality (embedded in his concerns for redistributive justice) that is simultaneously repudiated and embraced.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Anarchical Society at 40
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Challenges and Prospects
EditorsHidemi Suganami, Madeline Carr, Adam Humphreys
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198805144, 0198805144
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017


  • Bandung
  • Bull
  • Coloniality
  • Decolonial
  • Inequality
  • Justice
  • Order
  • spectrality


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