While there appears to be a gathering consensus about the need to be less ethnocentric and exclusive in the composition of academic fields in the contemporary university, there remains significant anxiety about how previously excluded voices might be included (and even whether their inclusion might really be of substantive interest rather than only of ethical merit). Hence, as a response to accusations that mainstream political theory remains staunchly Eurocentric, the emerging field of comparative political thought (CPT) is anxious about its appropriate range of activity: it aims to broaden the theoretical base of political inquiry by being as culturally inclusive as possible; it seeks to transcend national boundaries and build a body of theory that is somehow “global.” However, CPT must also be sensitive to the ways that “comparison” can function to separate (rather than include), and thus should be anxious that it may actually reinforce the problem that it seeks to overcome. This article aims to propose a way of understanding and practicing CPT that resolves the field's anxieties about its ostensible obsession with origination, spatial differentiations, and area studies, which are invariably emblematized by the field's apparent (and false) “non-Western” focus. It concludes that for CPT to be a meaningful field in its own right it must be concerned with metaphysical and cosmological discontinuities rather than spatial, geographic, or cultural differences per se; this will require a radical rethinking of the dimensions of political thought as a whole and the recovery of metaphysics as central to the endeavor.
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Chris Goto-Jones; A Cosmos beyond Space and Area Studies: Toward Comparative Political Thought as Political Thought. boundary 2 1 August 2011; 38 (3): 87–118. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-1430836
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