Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Copenhagen
Many regional academic communities in International Relations find themselves as passive recipients of ideas and theories developed elsewhere. Shedding off the role of simple ‘ideas-taker’ and becoming an autonomous voice in International Relations, academic communities and expert systems need to develop the conditions for independent theorising. In an attempt to foster such autonomous theorizing, the Korean International Studies Association (KAIS) organized an international conference entitled ‘Theorizing International Relations in East Asia’ in October 2007 in Seoul. It invited Stefano Guzzini to draw from his experiences in different parts of Europe. This Working Paper is a slightly revised version of his presentation in Seoul. Although crucial for moving out of the periphery, lessons from Europe show that autonomous theorizing typically encounters three main obstacles, of an intellectual and practical kind. They can obstruct the fundamental contribution of theorizing in its function as basic research. Theorizing provides the continuous check of underlying assumptions and basic concepts, since they inform any analysis (and then action), whether analysts (or practitioners) are aware of it or not. It provides the basis for a regionally sensitive analysis which does not just answer to findings pre-thought elsewhere.