But where is the magic? Emotional-relational humans and their untold stories in International Relations

Shambhawi Tripathi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


The affective turn in International Relations (IR) has been engaged in the critical project of returning the emotional to the international for a while now. Following these efforts to reinvest humanity in politics, this article seeks to investigate if an engagement with emotional humans can provide refuge from, grapple with and ultimately transform a disenchanted world of IR and spell new worlds into existence that place the emotional-relational at the centre of its practice. Drawing on feminist, aesthetic and decolonial scholarship on emotional-relational humans, I argue that such imaginations can open routes to recovery for emotional worlds in the discipline. I introduce magical realist fiction as a genre of literary writing which embraces the magical ability of humans who resist and transform unbearably rational worlds through their emotional relations with each other. Gleaning moments of emotional incantations by humans–in Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera–which work to transform a world that becomes too difficult to bear for its inhabitants, I contend that IR stands to gain invaluable lessons by immersing itself in the kind of emotional magic that such literature and its resident humans spell into being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157 - 183
Number of pages27
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2023


  • Emotions
  • Fiction
  • IR theory


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