Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory

Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil, editors
ISBN: 978-1-55587-727-9
1995/253 pages/LC: 95-9033

"This stimulating collection ... interrogates the long absence of interest in culture and identity in international relations and outlines the case for rethinking the contemporary theoretical scope of these concepts.... a must for more specialized international relations theory courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and would serve as a stimulating introduction to contemporary international relations for the postgraduate student new to the subject."—International Affairs

"Raises important questions and presents a series of thought-provoking arguments, the consideration of which can be only salutary for the discipline as a whole."—American Political Science Review

"Provides a comprehensive and stimulating range of approaches and illustrations of how culture and identity can be of interest to IR."—Millennium


Unanticipated epochal events associated with the demise of the Cold War have prompted the recognition that the post-Cold War order is transforming itself culturally even faster than it is changing geopolitically or economically. Within this context, this volume explores the scope and promise of the "return" of culture and identity to the IR theoretical agenda.

The authors address a series of questions: What explains the sustained lack of interest in culture and identity in IR theory? What is the case for rethinking the contemporary theoretical reach of these concepts? What are the most productive ways of defining them—elusive as they are—and integrating them in research endeavors? And finally, what are the risks, if any, associated with implementing the intellectual swing of pendulum documented and advocated in this book?

Though clearly not endorsing any form of cultural determinism, the contributors concur that the incorporation of a carefully sensitized culture/identity optic can serve as an important corrective to IR scholarship in an era of turbulent global transformation. Significant disagreements notwithstanding, they share the conviction that it is difficult to exaggerate the political and intellectual stakes involved in questions of culture and identity.


Yosef Lapid is associate professor of government at New Mexico State University. He is author of Beyond the Third Debate: New Frontiers in International Relations. Friedrich Kratochwil is Chair in International Relations, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, Munich. His publications include Rules, Norms, and Decisions: On the Conditions of Practical and Legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Society.


  • Culture's Ship: Returns and Departures in IR Theory—Y. Lapid.
  • The Past as Prelude to the Future? Identities and Loyalties in Global Politics—Y.H. Ferguson and R. W. Mansbach.
  • Identity and Structural Change in International Politics—A. Wendt.
  • Knowing Encounters: Beyond Parochialism in IR Theory—N. Inayatullah and D.L. Blaney.
  • Culturing IR Theory: A Call for Extension—S.C. Pasic.
  • Revisiting the "National": Toward an Identity Agenda in Neorealism?—Y. Lapid and F. Kratochwil.
  • Ground Identity: Nature, Place, and Space in Nationalism—D. Deudney.
  • Identity in IR Theory: Feminist Perspectives—J.A. Tickner.
  • Violent Performances: Identity, Sovereignty, Responsibility—D. Campbell.
  • Citizenship: On the Border of Order—F. Kratochwil.
  • Is the Ship of Culture at Sea or Returning?—F. Kratochwil.