Women Thinkers and the Canon of International Thought: Recovery, Rejection, and Reconstitution
By Kimberly Hutchings, Queen Mary University of London and Patricia Owens, University of Oxford
Canons of intellectual “greats” anchor the history and scope of academic disciplines. Within international relations (IR), such a canon emerged in the mid-twentieth century and is almost entirely male. Why are women thinkers absent from IR’s canon? We show that it is not due to a lack of international thought, or that this thought fell outside established IR theories. Rather it is due to the gendered and racialized selection and reception of work that is deemed to be canonical. In contrast, we show what can be gained by reclaiming women’s international thought through analyses of three intellectuals whose work was authoritative and influential in its own time or today. Our findings question several of the basic premises underpinning IR’s existing canon and suggest the need for a new research agenda on women international thinkers as part of a fundamental rethinking of the history and scope of the discipline.