Matthieu Grandpierron: Western political science research methodology as cause of the perpetuation of Eurocentrism

Speaker: Matthieu Grandpierron

Associate professor of international relations, Catholic University of Vendée (ICES), Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique. France

Topic: Western political science research methodology as cause of the perpetuation of Eurocentrism

In academia, especially in the fields of political science and international relations, the voice of scholars from the Global South and from nonwestern countries struggle to be heard. The participation of these scholars to prestigious international conferences and the publication of their research by well-established academic publishers are also not very frequent. As a consequence, the issue of comparing political systems, political philosophies, views of the world and of international issues suffer from a major limit: they are either done more or less exclusively by Western scholars and/or by using mostly Western political concepts and research methods. This creates the problem of knowing if concepts coming from a particular political and cultural context (Europe) are suited to really understand realities of different cultures and civilisations. The answer seems obvious and Martin Wight and Barry Buzan often called out against these risks. Surprisingly, it seems they have not been heard. This paper will investigate at these issues and will link them to the question of research methodology, especially the issue of resorting mostly to positivism as a source of inspiration for research methods. By treating history as a dataset and civilizations as variables, positivism creates the conditions for eurocentrism. This paper will conclude by proposing an alternative research method that aims at avoiding at best as possible cultural biases when conducting comparative studies.