Postcolonial Encounters in International Relations

The Politics of Transgression in the Maghreb

By Alina Sajed

© 2013 – Routledge

244 pages

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Hardback: 9780415781725
pub: 2013-06-27
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

Postcolonial Encounters in International Relations examines the social and cultural aspects of the political violence that underpinned the French colonial project in the Maghreb, and the multi-layered postcolonial realities that ensued.

This book explores the reality of the lives of North African migrants in postcolonial France, with a particular focus on their access to political entitlements such as citizenship and rights. This reality is complicated even further by complex practices of memory undertaken by Franco-Maghrebian intellectuals, who negotiate, in their writings, between the violent memory of the French colonial project in the Maghreb, and the contemporary conundrums of postcolonial migration.

The book pursues thus the politics of (post)colonial memory by tracing its representations in literary, political, and visual narratives belonging to various Franco-Maghrebian intellectuals, who see themselves as living and writing between France and the Maghreb. By adopting a postcolonial perspective, a perspective quite marginal in International Relations, the book investigates a different international relations, which emerges via narratives of migration. A postcolonial standpoint is instrumental in understanding the relations between class, gender, and race, which interrogate and reflect more generally on the shared (post)colonial violence between North Africa and France, and on the politics of mediating violence through complex practices of memory.


With a beautifully written argument flowing seamlessly from social theory to literature to visual arts, this book opens a critical dialogue between poststructural and postcolonial approaches to International Relations.

Robbie Shilliam, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London, UK.

Alina Sajed reveals the colonial roots of post-structuralism, offers fresh conceptualizations of the "translocal," and demonstrates how to decolonize international relations. Focusing on Franco-Maghreb encounters, she locates lost and forgotten themes that both resist and constitute the West. With precision, creativity, and poetic compassion, she retrieves the nuances of the actual world. I am sure this inspiring book will become required reading.

Naeem Inayatullah, Professor of Politics, Ithaca College, USA.

Alina Sajed’s brilliant work represents a stunning advance in our understandings of International Relations, Postcolonial Studies, immigration, exile, diaspora, violence and memory. Weaving a richly contrapuntal tapestry of the Franco-Maghrebian encounter, Sajed deftly demonstrates the inextricability of poststructuralist thought from its origins in the French colonial project – and its postcolonial legacy that so enduringly divides the ever-subaltern immigré of the banlieues from the neo-cosmopolitan exilé of the academy. This is one of those rare works that goes beyond recognizing an extant world of international relations – it radically alters our ways of seeing and understanding the world we live in.

Sankaran Krishna, University of Hawai`i at Manoa, USA.

Alina Sajed's innovative and compelling engagement with France's colonial legacy challenges both conventional and poststructural scholars for their inability to overcome a Eurocentric vision of the world.

Roland Bleiker, Professor of International Relations, University of Queensland, Australia.

Table of Contents

1.‘IR and the world: the politics of encounters’ 2.‘The Post Always Rings Twice? The Algerian War, Post-Structuralism and the Postcolonial in IR theory’3. ‘Exilé and immigré: the politics of exile and diaspora in the Franco-Maghrebian borderland ‘4. ‘Where have all the natives gone? Spectral Presences and Authenticity in Photographic and Literary Narratives’5. ‘The Franco-Maghrebian Borderland as Cinematic Space: Memory, Trauma, and Authenticity’6. ‘Fanon, Camus and colonial difference: possibilities and limits for decolonial thought and action’ 7. ‘Postcolonial strangers in a cosmopolitan world: postcolonial hybridity and beyond’8. ‘Diasporic identifications, translocal webs, and international relations’ Conclusion. Transgressing International Relations.

About the Author

Alina Sajed is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Hong Kong. She researches on the politics of the Global South, postcolonial approaches to IR, and political Islam. Her research has been published in Review of International Studies, Citizenship Studies, and Cambridge Review of International Affairs. She is the co-author, with William D. Coleman, of Fifty Key Thinkers of Globalization, published by Routledge.

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 / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General