Deconstructing International Politics

By Michael Dillon

© 2012 – Routledge

216 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415556705
pub: 2012-12-10
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Hardback: 9780415556699
pub: 2012-12-11
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About the Book

Michael Dillon is internationally regarded for his contributions by political philosophers, international relations scholars and security studies experts, as well as by philosophers more broadly. It is difficult to overrate his importance to the development of critical deconstructive approaches not only in challenging traditional scholarship and addressing contemporary politics, but in articulating new approaches and new thinking.

This book draws together some of his key works and is framed by an introduction written specially for the volume. It is the first full-length work to draw on the insights and techniques of deconstruction to analyse international relations. Influenced primarily by Derrida, it critiques the cornerstones of international relations such as modernity, the state, the subject, security and ethics and justice.

This volume will provide an invaluable resource for teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels on traditional international relations courses and on the increasing number of specialised courses in critical approaches. Well designed and structured, it is accessible to the novice as well as challenging for the specialist.


Deconstructing International Politics represents a journey of sustained scholarship and political thought at the highest level. Prepare to be dazzled anew by the tour de force of Dillon's unique treatment of the philosophy of international politics. From the refashioning of military bodies in-formation to Derrida's intractable aporia, the analysis in this collection of essays is incisive, urgent, politically astute. "Politics is what takes place", writes Dillon, amid a "specific clash of the calculable and the incalculable" - these essays testify to a thought always already ahead of its time.

Louise Amoore, Professor of Political Geography, Durham University.

Integral to the development of politics and political thinking within this stage of modernity is the move from the national to the international. International law is invoked to justify military actions. The centrality of the nation state as a locus of power is being effaced as economic orders that are transnational now have a determining effect of the economic policy of nation states. As a result there have never been a greater need for a sustained theoretical analysis of the primacy of the International. It is not surprising that Michael Dillon, one of the most significant figures writing political theory today has provided it. This is an important book written by one of our foremost thinkers of the political.

Andrew Benjamin, Professor of Critical Theory and Philosophical Aesthetics. Monash University and Distinguished Anniversary Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities at Kingston University.

Michael Dillon's work is more than a brilliant application of deconstruction to international relations; his essays take the measure of deconstruction itself by uncovering its politico-theological core, just as they reveal the inner link between anarchy and political realism in modernity. This book is an indispensable contribution to the task of rethinking contemporary political theory and international relations beyond the opposition of realism and constructivism.

Miguel Vatter, University of New South Wales

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Modernity, Security and Deterrence 3. Signifying Power 4. The Scandal of the Refugee 5. The Sovereign and the Stranger 6. Another Justice 7. Deconstructing the Military Body 8. Transformation 9. Violence, the Messianic and the Tragic 10. Lethal Freedom. Divine Violence and the Machiavellian Moment

About the Author

Michael Dillon is Emeritus Professor of International Politics at the University of Lancaster, UK

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins ( and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory