Blurring Borders: Investigating the Western/Global South Identity of Human Security

Maiken Gelardi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the globalizing international relations (IR) debate, the “West” and “Global South” have conventionally been presented as fundamentally different categories. This has disguised any interconnectedness between the two categories and variation within them. What does this mean for the quest for “Global South theorizing?” In order to address this binary logic in the globalizing IR literature, I analyze the case of human security as an example of Global South theorizing. First, I disentangle the Western/Global South origins and inflection of the human security concept and find that there is Global South agency related to its conceptual development, but also Western inflections. Second, I examine and compare the apparent rejection of the concept in two regions of the Global South—Southeast Asia and Latin America—and find both similarities and differences in their disinterest in engaging with the concept. Curiously, the similarities lie in the positionality of these regions and their difference to the West. In this way, the article points to the danger of using these categories in a manner that reemphasizes binary logics and their constitutive effects, and it exposes the complexity regarding what we consider Global South and Global South theorizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-161
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Global South
  • globalizing IR
  • human security
  • international relations theory
  • Latin America


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