Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 3000 words essay  40%
Semester Assessment 5000 words essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the key concepts in postcolonialism and poststructuralism.
2. Critically explore the questions of identification, differentiation and binary oppositions in international politics.
3. Assess the possibility and impossibility of in-betweenness in the (post)colonial world.
4. Describe and evaluate the different notions of in-betweenness in postcolonial studies.
5. Demonstrate a concrete understanding of poststructural thoughts on divisions/distinctions, in-betweenness and subjectivity.
6. Discuss and critically engage with the issue of responsibility to the object and/or the other.
7. Analyse the self in one's own research into international politics.
8. Demonstrate through written work and seminar discussion an ability to relate the divisions/distinctions and in-betweenness at one's personal level to those at the national and international levels.


This module aims to complement other modules running in the Department such as International Relations Theory, Critical Security Studies and, above all, Postcolonial Politics. It focuses on postcolonial and poststructural theories and in particular the notions of in-betweenness in those approaches. Postcolonialism and poststructuralism are primarily critiques of binary oppositions, which are rooted in modernity and hence prevalent in contemporary international politics. Examination of binary oppositions and in-betweenness within them is therefore crucial for the study of international politics.

The module is divided roughly, though not exclusively, into three parts:
(i) On binary oppositions and in-betweenness in the politics of identity, culture and nationalism as taken up by Homi K. Bhabha, Frantz Fanon and other postcolonial thinkers;
(ii) On negotiations of the subject/object and self/other divisions and distinctions in the works of Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida; and
(iii) On the ethical issues of writing (about) and representing one's research object addressed by Trinh T. Minh-ha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
Through careful analyses of the divisions/distinctions, in-betweenness and subjectivity at the international, national and even personal levels, students will also be expected to develop an ability to reflect upon their own positions in pursuing their research interests in international politics.

Brief description

This module examines the notions of in-betweenness in postcolonial and poststructural approaches to politics and, in so doing, introduces some of the key concepts in those theories. By juxtaposing works of both postcolonial and poststructural writers, the module also disrupts the distinction which is often made between the two approaches and equips students with `down-to-earth' as well as theoretical tools for their own research into international politics.


1. Introduction: Politics of identity and difference
2. Homi K. Bhabha: Hybridity of culture
3. Frantz Fanon: Black skin, white mask
4. Acceptance and rejection in nationalist thought
5. Michel Foucault: Dividing practices and subjectivity
6. Giorgio Agamben: Zones of indistinction
7. Jacques Derrida: Differance, undecidability, deconstruction
8. The object and the other
9. Trinh T. Minh-ha: Writing (about) the self and the other
10. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Representing the subaltern

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication. Fellow students will be encouraged to question the paper-giver to critique their approach or to suggest areas for the development of the chosen topic; in turn each will discuss the contributions and ideas of the other.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of two essays will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of two essays will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module Ability to evaluate competing perspectives Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 7