Centre for Advanced International Theory (CAIT)

2017 Sussex International Theory Prize

Islam and International Relations

Faiz SheikhFaiz Sheikh

The 2017 Sussex International Theory Prize has been awarded to Faiz Sheikh for his 'Islam & International Relations - Exploring Community and the Limits of Universalism' (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

This path-breaking book provides an innovative intellectual framework for rethinking the relationship between Western IR and Islamic political and international thought. It challenges IR’s standard categories of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘secularism’ and Islam’s alleged fusion of faith and the state emphasised by both Muslim fundamentalists and orientalists. Through a wide-ranging and careful engagement with currents of Islamic theology and philosophy, ‘Islam and International Relations’ reconstructs fundamental principles for ‘normative political Islam’ demonstrating how Muslims can live their faith and practice an Islam-sensitive politics in a world of nation-states. Yet this engagement with Islamic literature also shows how IR can engage with Muslim politics and history without resorting to the tired tropes of ‘anomaly’ and ‘divergence’. The study judiciously reconciles IR and Islam by retrieving Western secularism’s deep roots in Christianity and Islam’s long history of secular rule where the distinction between faith and the state, the religious and the temporal, was recognised and practiced. ‘Islam and International Relations’ establishes the foundations for a constructive reconceptualization of a highly topical and troubled relationship.


Richard RobbinsRichard Robbins

Debt as Power (Theory for a Global Age)The 2017 Prize committee also awarded an honorable mention to Richard H. Robbins & Tim di Muzio for their 'Debt as Power' (Manchester University Press, 2016).

This radical and wide-ranging book provides an innovative critical analysis of an alarming scourge of our times: debt. Developed as a critique of the categories of money and credit as technical and socially neutral categories in neoclassical economics,  ‘Debt as Power’ provides  an economic anthropology – at once historical and international - of the origins, intensification and socially deleterious consequences of debt as a technology of power. Derived from the Marxist theoretical framework of differential accumulation and conceiving of capitalism less in terms of a relation between exploiter and exploited and more as a relation between creditor and debtor, the study reads the international history of capitalist debt with strikingly new results.It opens up a new perspective on the origins of debt within the context of England’s 17th Century’s bellicose geopolitical context, emphasising the capitalisation of the English/British state and its indebtedness to private investors.

Tim di MuzioTim di Muzio

It moves on to explore the transatlantic spread and intensification of debt – private and public – through war, commerce, and colonialism. And concludes with an analysis of the further role of odious debt after WWII in the production of inter-state and domestic inequalities. The book ends with a call to arms: debt strike! ‘Debt as Power’ immeasurably advances our understanding of the international history of debt as a technology of power. It constitutes a fresh and important contribution to critical IR and IPE.