Theoretical Geometry, Critical Theory, and Concept Spaces in IR

Laura Sjoberg, Kevin Knudson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Particularly, in this chapter, we look to make an initial case for the argument that the tools of computational topology can be effectively utilized to explore questions of constitution, textuality, and performativity for critical IR. To that end, the first section lays out an argument about the possible utility of thinking geometrically about concept formation and reification for post-structuralist IR, and possible ways to do that work. The second section introduces the concept of democracy in IR, and argues that it might be possible to gain leverage on the dimensions of the concept using computational topology to evaluate existing data. The third section shows the method in action, and sketches out some of the possible ramifications for studying democracy from a critical perspective. The concluding section makes a case for the value-added both for political methodology and critical theory of methodological explorations like this.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterpretive Quantification
Subtitle of host publicationMethodological Explorations for Critical and Constructivist IR
EditorsJ. Samuel Barkin, Laura Sjoberg
Place of PublicationAnn Arbor
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-472-12265-3
ISBN (Print)978-0-472-07339-9, 978-0-472-05339-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • mathematics
  • geometry
  • concepts
  • epistemology
  • vector space
  • international relations
  • mapping

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