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International Political Sociology (2007) 1, 138148

Know-Where: Geographies of Knowledge of World Politics

JOHN AGNEW University of California, Los Angeles
The problem of foundations is a crucial one for any eld, particularly perhaps one with as varied a possible repertoire of elementary sources as the study of world politics. In this paper, I draw attention to how some different ways of thinking about where knowledge is produced and how it circulates can be used to inform understanding about geographies of knowledge of world politics. Such geographies, however, are not ends in themselves. The point is to understand the ontological bases of knowing from perspectives that do not privilege a singular history of knowledge associated with a specific world region or of conceptions of knowledge that implicitly or explicitly presume their self-evident universality. In other words, we need to move beyond the all-too-conventional repertoires of relativism and positivism in understanding the bases to knowing about world politics/international relations. The paper suggests some ways forward, which should now be the subject of vigorous debate.

It is something of a commonplace to claim that what we can know is a function, at least to some degree, of where we are or where we came from. To ask Where are you coming from? is more than rhetorical ourish or streetwise philosophy. Yet, in practice much knowledge about world politics, for example, involves the universalizing of what can be called doubtful particularisms. These are interpretive projections from the knowledge experiences of specific places/times onto all places/times. By knowledge I mean explanatory schemes, frames of reference, crucial sets of assumptions, narrative traditions, and theories. A great deal of interpretive projection is the result of the imposition of intellectual/political hegemonies from some places onto others. By way of example, much of what goes for international relations theory today is the projection onto the world at large of United Statesoriginated academic ideas about the nature of statehood and the world economy following a mixture of mid-twentieth-century European premises about states and American ones about economies even when these can often depart quite remarkably from the apparent contemporary sources of U.S. foreign policy conduct. The theory reects the application of criteria about how best to model a presumably hostile world drawn from selected aspects of U.S. experience and a U.S. reading of world history more than delity to how actual U.S. policies are constituted. Contrast the predictions of a Waltzian neorealism, for example, with a recent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East driven by what William Connolly (2005) calls a domestic alliance in the United States between cowboy capitalism and evangelical Protestantism. In this paper, I want to briefly but critically survey some of the ways in which the geography of knowledge can be brought into the study of world politics. The purpose is to review this developing eld and what it can offer to students of world politics, not to provide some denitive account of the best way of doing so. From this viewpoint, I hope to provide an initial contribution to one of the goals of this
r 2007 International Studies Association. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.



journal: to help scholars of international relations/world politics become more selfconscious about their theoretical perspectives.

Four Premises for Contemporary Geographies of Knowledge: Beyond Relativism and Positivism
The problem of foundations is a crucial one for any eld, particularly perhaps one with as varied a possible repertoire of elementary sources as the study of world politics. Conventionally, in both so-called mainstream and subversive perspectives among European and North American scholars, theorists from the past are drawn upon to provide assumptions and basic theoretical frameworks. These are the giants on whose shoulders we claim to stand. One of the most important to students of world politics and international studies has been the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, arguably the most important theorist of the security dilemma in a so-called anarchic world. Yet, as Karena Shaw (2004:8) reminds us, Hobbes wrote in a very specific context: from within the chaos and violence of civil war England . . . to establish order, to develop logic and justication for a form of political authority capable of stemming bloodshed. It is important to understand the significance of this sort of intellectual specicity in the roots of the eld of study, not because there is nothing generalizable about what Hobbes had to say, but because a case must be made for why this particular foundation has the continuing importance we give to it across a historically evolving world political system. The purpose of this paper is somewhat different from the more familiar tactic of either providing such a case or offering a challenge to it. There have been many such attempts in recent years among contemporary theorists of one sort or another. Rather, I want to draw attention to some recent rethinking about where knowledge is produced and how it circulates and the ways in which this rethinking can be used to inform understanding about geographies of knowledge of world politics. Such geographies, however, are not ends in themselves. The point is to understand the ontological bases of knowing from perspectives that do not either privilege a singular history of knowledge associated with a specific world region (a typical relativism) or presume conceptions of knowledge that implicitly or explicitly assume their own self-evident universality (a typical positivism). Recent rethinking of the geography of knowledge can be considered initially with respect to four dominant tendencies in thinking about the nature of the political world and the character of knowledge production that are important to recognize and combat in order to better cultivate thinking about the socialpolitical dynamics of the geography of knowledge. Unfortunately, they are rarely raised together and, as a consequence, dealing with any one does not always necessarily involve addressing and combating the others. The various geographies of knowledge I outline later, however, do attempt to come to grips with one or more of these dominant ideas about the nature of the political world and the character of knowledge production. First of all, knowledge is often regarded as simply a commodity like any other that is exchanged in a marketplace of ideas. The best ones win out in an evolutionary competition based around the professionalization of knowledge accumulation in universities and research institutes. From this viewpoint, there is no sociology of knowledge whatsoever. Now, one does not need to endorse the view that all explanatory schemes are equally truthful to accept that what knowledge becomes normalized or dominant and what is marginalized has something to do with who is doing the proposing and where they are located. The marketplace of ideas is not a level playing eld. There is both sociology and geography of knowledge production and circulation. Bruce Kuklicks (2006) cautionary tale about the failings of U.S. policy intellectuals during the Cold War in the face of the seductions of potential political inuence is a salutary reminder of how conventional thinking about world politics has been very much part of the problem with a U.S. foreign



policy autistic about attitudes and reactions in other parts of the world simply because it was by definition parochial. The positivism which remains deantly agnostic about the social-geographical sources of its knowledge and the uses to which that knowledge is put is increasingly problematic. Yet, knowledge is never simply a prisoner of culture, will, or power. The sort of detachment or ability to look beyond ones own limited horizons cultivated by academic freedom, but also characteristic of people under much less congenial social arrangements (dissidents in Cold War Eastern Europe and contemporary China, for example) means, as Thomas Haskell (1998:152153) suggests, that we take seriously both parts of a famous sentence in Nietzsche (1969:119) usually used to indicate the impossibility of disinterestedness. The second part says that some conceptions can be more complete than others:
There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective knowing; and the more affects we are allowed to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our concept of this thing be.

Haskell (1998:153) concludes: The ideal of objectivity [if not that of neutrality] requires no more of a foothold than this. Of course, a commitment to a modicum of objectivity by no means provides a guarantee that objectivity will ever be successful in the outcome, only that it is worthwhile to consider this as a goal rather than, say, cynically accepting that knowledge should always serve power or that this or that perspective is necessarily wrong simply because I do not like it or it is not from my culture. The main claim here is that knowledge about world politics (or anything else) from one place is not necessarily incommensurable or unintelligible relative to knowledge produced elsewhere. Cross-cultural communication goes on all the time without everything being lost in translation. Indeed, knowledge in some places gains in both the possibility of greater geographical scope and cultural sensitivity when it is informed by knowledge coming from other places. There is much confusion about such matters in contemporary disputes about epistemology in international studies in particular and social science in general, with the possibility of constrained objectivity often summarily dismissed in favor of social determinisms of knowledge of various types (e.g., Schatzki 1995; Tickner 2006). The second is the imagination of world geography or global space as a surface rather than, say, as Doreen Massey (2005:4) suggests a meeting up of histories. This matters because a surface (at least in a Euclidean sense) presumes total ease of movement, timelessness, no directional bias, and an Archimedean view over the whole. Yet, world history has been a history of collisions between conceptions of space (and time) as the world itself was made by the imposition of dominant grids (think of latitude and longitude or dating based on pre- and Christian eras) more than a straightforward incision of history on a passive surface. Any particular theoretical position necessarily contains within it specific grids of space and periodizations of time based in some specific historical outcome (e.g., whose Middle East and whose medieval?). At the same time, this perspective can overstate the linearity of intellectual development in different regions at the expense of noting both the limits of historicism (many ideas are not all specific to time and place but discovered independently and persist) and the complexity of knowledge formation even within particular places (see, e.g., and respectively, Pagden 1987 and Melzer 2006). Another tendency is that of turning time into space by characterizing some places as following in the footsteps of others as they recapitulate their previous history. This is the main move of modernization and other developmental conceptions of space and time when they were invented in the eighteenth-century Europe. From this viewpoint, because some places are more developed economically, they must necessarily be superior in other respects such as in the universality of their knowledge claims. Eventually, by learning from their betters those lower down the global



order can potentially catch up with those higher up (see Blaney and Inayatullah 2002). Yet, the ability to argue this way may well reect the global dominance of some places over others more than their inherent intellectual superiority because of the stage of development. Typically, national states are taken as the basic units of account arrayed along a developmental continuum. Much social and political theory, in particular, tends to be crucially intertwined with both specific nation-states and assuming a world thus divided. Although at one time and again more recently, larger-bounded territorial entities such as civilizations can be given priority. Either way, what is missing is the fact that such hard-walled territories are both relatively modern and not universal (Ascherson 2001). Projecting the assumption that they are indeed both ancient and universal produces an image of the world as a mosaic of bounded peoples, cultures, and societies. It is to and across these entities that the cultivation of knowledge is thus often fallaciously ascribed. The nal tendency is the sharp contrast frequently drawn between space, representing the general or universal, on the one hand, and place, standing in for the local and specific, on the other (Agnew 2005b). Places are often thought of as if they are bunkers or isolated communities separated from everywhere else. For both nationalism and identity politics, place is seen as the ideal in which the group lives, hermetically sealed off from all others (Simpson 1995, chapter 5). To cosmopolitans, in contrast, space is the ideal: a world without borders in which hybridity and crosscultural intercourse reign in all directions. This opposition, present most clearly in contemporary globalization debates between those locked into a territorialized world and those proclaiming an incipient world of placeless ows, misses both the extent to which places are almost always parts of spatial networks reaching across cultural and political barriers and yet settings in which distinctive social and moral habits and routines take place. Recent thinking in human geography suggests that relational spaces and relatively bounded places coexist and interrelate rather than being mutually exclusive (Agnew 2005a, chapter 3; Coleman and Agnew 2007). Binary or oppositional views of place and space, therefore, offer a mistaken basis for understanding the workings of geographies of knowledge. Arguably, much cultural and literary theory of the past quarter century has been taken up with debating one or more of these issues if often with different terminologies. But the critical question of ultimate ontological belonging has increasingly bedeviled the debate: from the politics of group identity to the clash of civilizations. In this construction, perhaps too much discussion of the geography of knowledge comes too close to what Timothy Brennan (2006:6) calls a religious approach to knowledge in general, that is, the creation of like-thinking communities based on transcendental convictions. In this regard, true knowledge is always and everywhere regarded as emanating from incommensurable and totally distinctive worlds reecting primordial cultural identities that the Western Enlightenment has driven underground (e.g., Kymlicka 1995; Tully 1995; Parekh 1998). In this way, critical reection is largely abandoned for excavating this or that experiential difference. At an extreme, the emphasis on local knowledgeFa stance in which all science [for example] is seen as ethno-science with standards rooted in a particular cultureFwithdraws objectivity, turns the abdication of judgment into a principle of judgment, and recalls what was once a right-wing preoccupation with Jewish physics, Italian mathematics, and the like (Bronner 2004:162). Such cultural relativism critically ignores the fact that cultures in the modern world never exist in isolation and that cultures themselves are assemblages of people with often crosscutting identities and commitments (Lukes 2000). From this viewpoint, culture is an idiom or vehicle of intersubjective life, but not its foundation or nal cause (Jackson 2002:125). Be that as it may, knowledge creation and dissemination are never innocent of at least weak ontological commitments, be they national, class, gender, or something else. This is precisely the point of referring to the geography of knowledge: the



question of where brings together under the rubric of spatial difference a wide range of potential ontological effects. At the same time, massive socio-political changes in the world are shaping changes in how we (whomever and wherever we are) engage in how knowledge is ordered and circulated. Cross-global linkages are arguably more important today than at any time in human history, not so much in terms of the conventional story of producing places that are ever more alike, but in more especially creating opportunities for interaction between local and long-distance effects on the constitution of knowledge (e.g., Ranieri 2006). As a result, anomalies in established theories as the world unleashes surprises and the subsequent limits to the conventional theoretical terms in which social science theories have been organizedFstates versus markets, West versus rest, religion versus secularism, past versus present, the telos of history versus perpetual uxFpose serious challenges to the disciplinary codes that have long dominated thinking about world politics. Perhaps the most serious issue concerns the continuing relevance of the idiographic/nomothetic (particulars/ universals) opposition that has aficted western social science since the Methodenstreit of the late nineteenth century. Knowledge is always made somewhere by particular persons reecting on their places historical experience. Universals often arise by projecting these experiences onto the world at large (Seth 2000). What is needed are ways of understanding how this happens and drawing attention to the need to negotiate across perspectives so that world politics in itself can be less the outcome of hegemonic impositions (and a dialogue of the deaf) and more the result of the recognition and understanding of differences, both cultural and intellectual.

Five Geographies of Knowledge of World Politics

There are broadly ve different ways in which geography is currently understood as entering into knowledge production and circulation. I am sure that others might divide them up differently or identify others I have missed. Typologies such as this are inherently problematic, simplifying a much more complex picture in order to achieve some purchase on it. I offer no apology for this. As the literature on the topic develops, perhaps a more rened typology will emerge. The rst way of conceiving a geography of knowledge is the ethnographic, by which I mean approaches that conceive of knowledge as inherently plural and focus on the venues and sites in which knowledge is produced and consumed. The focus here lies in rehabilitating what are sometimes called indigenous knowledges or in pointing out how science is culturally inected. Another related but distinctive position tends to privilege the role of coloniality or the effects of colonialism on knowledge hierarchies. A third derives more immediately from the philosophies of phenomenology that emphasize the intimate relations between particular contexts of being, on the one hand, and knowledge acquisition, on the other. While also seeing knowledge as produced locally, a fourth emphasizes more on how the local becomes the global, given the rise and fall of ideas as their political/intellectual sponsors undergo a similar process. Finally, emphasis has shifted somewhat in some recent accounts from knowledge production to knowledge circulation and consumption in the form of highlighting what is called the geography of reading. The attempt here is to assume that similar ideas circulate widely but generate distinctive readings in different places thus creating different perspectives. For expository purposes I wish to accent one example of each approach in order to give an overall impression of the richness of contemporary geographical epistemology, to coin a term covering all of the approaches, and how each can offer distinctive insights into understanding the theory and practice of world politics.
Sites of Knowledge

Many good examples of the rst approach can be found in Laura Naders (1996) edited collection Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiry into Boundaries, Power, and



Knowledge. One contribution here lies in challenging the notion that a certain idea of science as a geographically invariant technorational activity beyond society necessarily produces better-quality knowledge than other ways of knowing. But science itself also takes on different intellectual inections depending on where it is practiced. One of the most relevant and interesting chapters in this regard is a comparison of the elds of primatology in Japan and Canada (Asquith 1996). In this case, perspectives on the nature of nature reect unarticulated assumptions about the roles of groups and individuals in the behavior of apes and monkeys. In Japan, primatologists engage in long-term observation of groups with an emphasis on interand intra-group relations, ranking, and individual to group afliation. In Canada, the focus lies in intense short-term observation of adaptive behaviors of individuals. These differences do not seem to be coincidental. Japanese human society is famously group-oriented compared with Canada or the United States. Like Donna Haraway writing about how political and psychological come together in Primate Visions (1989), this study is an arresting example of how culturally embedded science can be and thus how knowledge is not constructed the same way in all places even when certain common canons of observation and recording information are still operative. Metaphors, the particularly powerful ways in which scientific ideas are expressed in ordinary language, are often important in interpreting results in some ways rather than others (e.g., Ezrahi 1995; Leary 1995). Various social studies of science take these insights down to the level of the laboratory and the classroom. In the context of world politics, what they suggest is that all knowledge, including that claiming the mantle of science, is at least socially conditioned by the rituals, routines, and recruitment practices of powerful educational and research institutions. Thus, the assumption of anarchy beyond state borders is not an objective fact about the world but a claim socially constructed by theorists and actors operating in conditioning sites and venues (premier universities, think-thanks, government ofces, etc.), which unthinkingly reproduce the assumption drawing on unimpeachable intellectual precursors (such as Machiavelli and Hobbes) irrespective of its empirical truth status (O Tuathail 1996). Other ideas such as those of rational choice and hegemonic succession can be thought of similarly as reecting the social and political experiences of particular theorists in specific places as much as objective truth about the world per se (see, respectively, e.g., Grunberg 1990; Green and Shapiro 1996; Taylor 2006). If believed, of course, and if in the hands of those powerful enough, they can become guides to action that make their own reality.
Border Thinking

The primatology example, however, presumes that knowledge comes packaged in territorial containers with labels like Japan and Canada and thus that practice in both has developed separately. At a world-scale perhaps the outstanding feature of the past centuries has been the way most places have been incorporated into ows of knowledge dominated by Europeans and extensions of Europe overseas, such as the United States. This is the story, in Eric Wolf s evocative phrase, of Europe and the People without History (1982). Raised particularly by Edward Said (1978) and more recently by Walter Mignolo (2000) and others (e.g., Chatterjee 2006), colonialism is seen as laying the groundwork for a global geopolitics of knowledge. Initially giving rise to the type of knowledge typied by Orientalism, it has subsequently engendered reactions from the historically subordinated places to which such phrases as subaltern knowledges and border thinking are often appended. From this viewpoint, the modernity associated with Europe can no longer be imagined as the only home to epistemology. Mignolo (2000:95), for example, emphasizes what he calls subaltern reason as a diverse set of theoretical practices emerging from and responding to colonial legacies at the intersection of Euro/ American modern history. Much of this writing centers the experience of colo-



nialism (in its various manifestations) as key to knowledge production. Rather than a singular experience, however, this is viewed as plural. Place of theorizing, in the sense of being from, coming from, and being at, conditions what can or may be said (Mignolo 2000:115). This is not to say that only people from place X can say so-andso but that it is a fusion of historical circumstances and personal sensibilities that makes this likely to be the case, at least initially. Certainly, theories of world politics like dependency theory and literary genres such as magical realism with their obvious roots in Latin America and subaltern studies with its strong connections to India suggest that Mignolo is onto something here. Indeed, he suggests that the United States as a settler society with its own roots in colonialism can also be viewed in a similar light rather than simply seen as an extension of Europe into the Americas. His slogan I am where I think clearly sees knowledge production as geographically relational: reecting particular colonial histories and how these stimulate indigenously generated local content. This contrasts with the Europeanbased Theo- and Ego- politics of knowledge that systematically devalue what Mignolo (2006) terms the Geo- and Bio- graphic politics of knowledge that emphasize epistemological rules grounded in the history of political imperialism as differentially experienced around the world. The fact that these ideas now have wide circulation all over the world suggests that ows of knowledge are hardly one-way streets in the ways they once were.
Geographical Being and Knowledge

My third type of geography of knowledge is phenomenological with its weight on concern for the ways of acting and knowing that humans bring to being in the world. Drawing from Martin Heidegger and other philosophers, but also having roots in the discipline of geography (Wright 1947; Lowenthal 1961), the interest here lies more in establishing how conceptions of space, place, and time are themselves contingent on what Edward Casey (1996:19) calls the dialectic of perception and place because human beings are ineluctably place-bound. Of course, it is commonplace today to say that many of us live in a world that is de-localizing and deterritorializing. Yet, it may be more empirically useful to say that the present situation is one in which for many people there is crisis and a modication of our traditional experience of space and place (Honnighausen 2005:46) than a total de spatialization of life. As Clifford Geertz says: No one lives in the world in general. Actual places, both as experienced and as imagined, serve to anchor conceptions of how the world is structured politically, who is in charge, where, and with what effects, and what matters to us in this place. Thus, Americans and U.S. policy makers bring to their actions in the world a whole set of presuppositions about the world that emanate from their experiences as Americans, particularly narratives about U.S. history and the U.S. mission in the world, that are often occluded by academic debates about theories that fail to take into account such crucial background geographical conditioning. As Lisa Anderson (2003:90) has noted, much of the liberal tradition that has shaped social science in the United States has had a geographical, territorial association. She quotes Kenneth Prewitt (2002:2) in support:
The project of American social science has been America. This project, to be sure, has been in some tension with a different projectFto build a science of politics or economics or psychology. But I believe that a close reading of disciplinary history would demonstrate that the American project has time and again taken precedence over the science project and that our claims to universal truths are, empirically, very much about the experience of this society in this historical period.

With something of a note of irony, Heideggers view of world politics can be seen as illustrating this point. As Dean Lauer (2005) has recently argued, Heidegger had



a geopolitics that was a result of his seemingly academic philosophy of beingthere. The United States and the Soviet Union, in this construction, represented the victory of universalizing creeds over being-in-place. In the context of postWorld War II Europe, consequently, Heidegger sees Europe as caught between the millstones of American liberalism and Russian Bolshevism (Lauer 2005:134). In this understanding, they are metaphysically the same because they, Russia and America, are locked into a dreary technological frenzy, the same uprooted organization of the average man. At a time when the farthermost corner of the globe has been conquered by technology and opened to economic exploitation (Heidegger 1987:37). Of course, both creeds did in fact have definite geographical roots, their own beings-in-place, even as they embarked on a global hegemonic contest. The rise of China in recent years may well signify a renewed conict of geopolitical visions of the world more than simply yet another hegemon following a string of others who all behave in the same way (Callahan 2004).
Hegemonic Thinking

How the universalizing creeds have recruited adherents beyond their places of origin is the main concern of the fourth approach. This could be thought of as a question of spatial diffusion. Certainly, there is this aspect to it. Thus, some have focused on how ideas about political parties and other institutional forms are spread by imitation from one country to another (e.g., Pombeni 2005), whereas others have traced the inuence of intellectual conversion in, for example, the diffusion of neoliberal scal and monetary policies (e.g., Biersteker 1995). More holistically, however, Gramscis concept of hegemony is helpful in trying to understand how elites (and populations) accept and even laud ideas and practices about world politics and their place in it that they import from more powerful countries and organizations. If part of American hegemony in the contemporary world, for example, is about enrolling others into American practices of consumption and a market mentality, it also adapts as it enrolls by adjusting to local norms and practices (Agnew 2005a). This is part of its genius. During the Cold War, the Soviet alternative always risked political ssion among adherents because it involved adopting a check-list of political-economic measures rather than a marketing package that could be customized to local circumstances as long as it met certain minimal criteria of conformity to governing norms. Today, the conict between militant Islam and the U.S. government is largely about resisting the siren call of an American hegemony increasingly detached from direct U.S. sponsorship and with many advocates and passive supporters within the Muslim world itself. The message seems to be, best to try and undermine it while it still has the semblance of a home address.
Geography of Reading

Finally, even in the face of hegemonic trends, not least that of the worldwide diffusion of scientific knowledge, where still matters but with respect to how ideas are understood (how texts are read) more than in terms of where new knowledge is initially produced. Thus, in accounting for distinct differences in how Darwins biogeographical theory of evolution by natural selection was construed in a number of different settings, David Livingstone (2005) suggests, quoting from a somewhat different Edward Said (1991) than the one referred to previously, that theory travels. This is not simply that texts and ideas move from place to place but that in doing so they are modied. This is not just because local norms or translation into a different language lead to different readings but also because the writings and reputations of eminent scientific practitioners have often been mobilized as resources in ideological conicts of various kinds (Livingstone 2003:27). In a sense,



therefore, knowledge is made as it circulates; it is never made completely in one place and then simply consumed as is elsewhere. In knowledge about world politics, the constitutive ideas of so-called realism as developed by Machiavelli, Hobbes, and others have taken on a very different form in the hands of the German refugee scholars in the United States, such as Hans Morgenthau, and then in the hands of more Americanized theorists, such as Robert Gilpin, than the originals might initially suggest could ever be the case (Inayatullah and Rupert 1994). Most notably, so-called neorealism combines elements of political realism and liberal economics that have traveled some intellectual distance from their geographical roots in, respectively, Renaissance Italy and late eighteenthcentury Scotland. By way of another example, the so-called English School of international relations, associated in particular with the idea of international society, has recently undergone something of a concerted revival as an alternative to U.S. theories. It has certainly traveled well beyond Britain, even if with questionable success (e.g., Waever 1992; Wendt 1999). Zhang (2003) has examined how well it has traveled to China since Adam Roberts, one of its main advocates, visited Beijing in 1991. Lacking in equivalently talented entrepreneurs or salesmen and the regularized connections between U.S. and Chinese universities, he nds that the English School has had limited inuence compared with the continuing dominance of U.S. scholars. But most of the main works are also not available in Chinese, and the major research institutes in China are run by people trained in the United States. Academic Chinese knowledge of the international, therefore, largely remains refracted through intellectual lenses made in the United States.

In brief compass, I have tried to show some of the ways in which we can construct a geography of knowledge for world politics that draws from some of the ways in which space and place have been incorporated into recent studies of knowledge production and how it circulates. My purpose is not to argue for the inherent superiority of any one of these. Indeed, I think that each offers something distinctive and helpful to the whole task. No one provides a total solution. All, if in different ways, move beyond the lazy assumption of either a universalist epistemology for which the question of where? matters not even one whit or a totalistic cultural relativism that envisions a world of bunkered cultures producing mutually incomprehensible Weltanschauung. More specifically, the rst approach (the ethnographic) and the fth one (geography of reading) are perhaps the most innovative in highlighting, respectively, the geographical origins of knowledge practices and their subsequent social conditioning in different places. The other three draw attention to the political conditions under which knowledge is produced and circulates, privileging as powerful conditioning factors, and, respectively, colonialism, being-in-place, and global hegemony. Any relatively complete account would need to interrogate, relate, and then combine all of them. This remains to be done.

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