A material turn in International Relations: the 4x4, intervention and resistance

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This article explores how analysis of material objects offers insights into international intervention
and reactions to that intervention. Building on studies that examine the 4x4 as emblematic of
intervention, the article argues that the 4x4 can also be seen as an object of resistance and agency. To
do so, it uses the case study of 4x4 usage in Darfur and draws on primary data including interviews
and a UN security incident database. The article is mindful of the limitations of a ‘material turn’ in
the study of International Relations, especially in relation to how it might encourage us to overlook
agency and structural power. While finding new materialism arguments largely convincing, the case
study encourages a note of caution and proposes the notion of ‘materialism+’, which allows for the
further investigation of the human/non-human interface, but is circumspect about tendencies
towards neophilia, dematerialism, and posthumanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-27
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Objects; New Materialism; Agency; Intervention; Resistance; Darfur

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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