Feminist Foreign Policy as Ethical Foreign Policy? A Care Ethics Perspective


Robinson, Fiona. 2019. “Feminist Foreign Policy as Ethical Foreign Policy? A Care Ethics Perspective.” Journal of International Political Theory, February 25. https://doi.org/10.1177/1755088219828768

Author: Fiona Robinson


This article argues that a liberal cosmopolitan approach to feminist foreign policy reproduces existing relations of power, including gender power relations and Western liberal modes of domination. I suggest that a critical feminist ethic of care offers a potentially radical and transformative account of ethics as a basis for a transnational feminism – one that reveals and troubles the binary gender norms that constitute the international and which exposes the ways in which patriarchal orders uphold political hierarchies that obstruct the building of empathy and repairing of relationship. To illustrate this argument, I address the recent diplomatic crises faced by Sweden and Canada in their relationships with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Policymakers and diplomats must aim to build understanding by recognizing the material and discursive factors that have constructed, over time, the relationships between Saudi Arabia and Sweden/Canada, as well as the ways in which patriarchal structures – across the globe and at multiple scales – hinder the possibility of attentive listening and connection across borders. It is only through the prism of this relationship – where difference takes on meaning – that the more complex role of Western states in the contemporary system of transnational militarism is revealed.

Keywords: care, cosmopolitanism, ethics, feminism, foreign policy, post-colonialism

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Feminist Foreign Policy, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality

Year: 2019

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