10 Brown J. World Aff. 35 (2003-2004)
Feminist Theories Within, Invisible to, and beyond IR

handle is hein.journals/brownjwa10 and id is 323 raw text is: Feminist Theories Within, Invisible
To, and Beyond IR
Associate Professor
University of Arizona
I WOULD FIRST LIKE TO thank the editors of The Brown Journal of World Affairs for
devoting an issue to feminist theory and its future within International Relations.
The title of my essay was prompted by a series of questions the editors posed as guide-
lines for contributing authors. Suggested topics ranged from the debate(s) on femi-
nism to feminism in relation to IR, and feminist theory in relation to policy. It
struck me that the questions within each topic indicated a variety of assumptions about
feminism, theory, and international relations that seemed to reflect what cur-
rently passes for awareness of and knowledge about feminist theory within IR. As a        35
feminist-IR theorist, however, I found these assumptions familiar but largely mistaken.
Insofar as such assumptions do reflect how feminist-IR is generally perceived,
they also reveal the narrowness of that perception and its failure to encompass what I
consider the most significant-indeed the most theoretical-aspects of feminist-IR.
Making sense of the discrepancy between 'my take' and the 'received view' suggested a
strategy for responding to the editors' invitation.
I therefore attempt in this essay (and not for the first time') to darify my understanding
of feminist theories and their relationship to theorizing 'within' and 'beyond' mainstream IR
In the process, I address a number of the questions posed by the editors, specifically-
Has the proliferation of feminist theory put to rest the debate over the field's legitimacy
in the academy? Does feminist theory still lack an additive/(trans)formative element?
What misunderstandings remain unresolved in these debates? What impact has
feminist theory had on 'mainstream' IR theory? Which feminisms have proven
successful? Why? How has feminist theory evolved since its initial emergence in IR
theory? What areas of IR do you foresee feminist theory exploring in the future?
V. SPIKE PETERSON is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science with courtesy ap-
pointments in Women's Studies, Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies, and International Studies
at the University of Arizona.
Copyright © 2004 by the Brown Journal of World Affairs


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