Peacekeeping and the Politics of Postmodernity
Williams, Michael C.
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This paper attempts to explicate in a cursory fashion the ways in which theories of peacekeeping are embedded in a much broader set of assumptions about the nature of domestic politics and international relations. These assumptions are inextricably intertwined - both theoretically and practically - with their emergence in what is commonly now referred to as 'modernity'. The theoretical and practical status, not to mention content, of modernity is itself a matter of no small debate. Whether we are now in, entering, or beyond a condition of modernity, high modernity, late modernity or post-modernity is a controversy creating an increasing amount of heat, if a depressingly small amount of light. Yet despite the excesses to which it often leads, the question is an important one since it goes to the very core of how we understand contemporary political life. Still, anyone who wants (is foolish enough?) to invoke such broad concepts faces a series of potential pitfalls. How, after all, does one give adequate concrete content to a concept as broad as 'modernity', let alone its purported successors? Although this treatment will at one level be philosophically inclined, it will not take up directly the myriad controversies between modern and post-modern philosophies of knowledge, ethics or power. Rather, it will seek to outline in general terms the ways in which modernity embodies a set of categories concerning time, space and (in this regard) their political corollary: sovereignty. The representations of these categories of experience specific to modernity are central in coming to terms with the theoretical and practical elements constitutive in the emergence of the modern state system and with the transformations currently underway within it.