About Post-Critique

Post-Critical approaches to the social sciences involve displacing the traditional modes, moods, methods, and theories through which we critically inquire into social and political phenomena. The approach can arguably be traced back to thinkers including Michel Foucault, Theodore Adorno, Michel Serres, Carlos Castaneda, and beyond. These earlier thinkers of post-critique focused principally on the (perceived) ‘failure’ or ‘aporia’ facing critical thought in the wake of sustained violences and crises. They thus evoked a profound uncertainty about the capacity of social scientific knowledge to effect change on the world, advocating instead for the value of critical theory in acting as a “message in the bottle” whose knowledge is valuable in and of itself and may, one day, become fruitful as social and political conditions shift.

More recently, post-critical approaches to the social science have multiplied in arguably more positive directions. This includes efforts to shift the critical ethos to ‘creation’ and ‘composition’ as opposed to deconstruction, denunciation, and opposition; efforts to re-engage critical scholarly participation with global publics in various ways, efforts to engage ‘non-judgemental’ modes of critique; and beyond. For good introductions to all these approaches see the references, books, and lectures listed in the resources section of this site. Otherwise, further elaborations of these points are made on the page What is Post-Critical IR?