Problematising entanglement fetishism in IR: On the possibility of being without being in relation

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The following article seeks to question the deterministic tinge behind entanglement fetishism, namely the celebratory, uninhibited, and totalising projection of the world as a relational wholeness. Alongside the rise of Anthropocene debates and the claimed incapacity of post-positivism to account for contemporary socio-natural transformations, the text embarks on two main goals. On the one hand, the article sketches a brief genealogy of processual and relational thinking, with a focus on International Relations (IR) literature. On the other hand, the text seeks to move forward critical engagements with the entangled grand narrative. To this end, the article exposes a problematic ontological assumption often overlooked by both entanglement fetishists and their critics: entanglements are infallibly generative, that is to say, they deterministically precipitate further beings and events. In doing so, the text invites IR scholarship to explore non-generative encounters and hence to address the question of the possibility of being without being in relation. Drawing from an unorthodox line of research, the article unearths non-relational, or beyond-the-relational, instances, whose engagement with an entangled world can only be materialised through the logics of subjugation. For this mode of being, the texts hints, non-engagement, refusal, and withdrawal become a form of political resistance and survival, thus distorting the controversial association between political subjectivity and emancipation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalReview of International Studies
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2023


  • Anthropocene
  • entanglement fetishism
  • ontology
  • refusal
  • relations


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