Living in Eastphalia? Encounters with a Post-Western World
An unintended outcome of the turbulence that marked the post-Cold War “new world order” has been the gradual shift in the focus of world affairs to the East. In the early 1990s commentators were pondering how far Western norms would spread in an environment marked by “the end of history”; but, today, the debate is about the global reach of Asian ideas and norms. Our workshop will examine this shift in the debate by discussing changes and continuities in the Westphalian framework of global life. At the same time, it will consider whether current dynamics indicate the emergence of a nascent “Eastphalian” world order.
Some of the queries that will guide our conversations are:
- Does the current language of International Relations require new (non-Western) terms and concepts for depicting the complexity and turbulence of global life? Which ones? Why?
- Are Asian/non-Western international actors becoming more like Western ones, or more different from them?
- Is the current shape of world affairs qualitatively new – or at least new enough – to demand a paradigm shift in the analysis of international relations?
- Does the so-called “rise of Asia” (which more often than not is shorthand for the “rise of China”) already frame the explanation, understanding, and practices of what still passes for “the international”?
- What would an Eastphalian International Theory look like? Does it already exist? Is it needed? Or is the ‘Westphalian’ narrative of IR merely being supplanted by an ‘Eastphalian’ one?
The workshop does not intend to offer a resolution to those issues, but by illuminating their complexity suggest the outlines of new politics of critique, thinking, and knowledge capable of imagining global life other than what it currently is.
Shampa Biswas (Whitman College, USA)
Westphalian Sovereignty in an Eastphalian World
Postcolonial scholarship has revealed the colonial history that has shaped the form of the Westphalian state and critiqued its production of an individuated conception of sovereignty as one of the primary mechanisms of global ordering. The competitive, militarized world that Political Realists describe and critical IR scholars have widely criticized is in part a product of the entrenchment of this territorialized form of political community. It is possible that an Eastphalian world order could provide both the cultural and philosophical resources for alternative (more relational?) imaginaries of political community and the material conditions to help establish a different (more collaborative?) kind of global politics. New concerns, however, have emerged as the recent establishment of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine (R2P) has led to the possible erosion of sovereign protections from heavy-handed external interventions and the fuzzied boundaries of a neoliberal world order has made sovereignty a weak tool to interrupt capitalist penetration. Although state elites have often deployed it quite strategically to bolster their own positions, for third world states sovereign statehood has been one of the few available vehicles for registering their legibility and gaining some audibility on the global stage and may remain one of the only ways to withstand and resist different forms of external interventions. What does this mean for the future of sovereignty as concept and practice? This paper will ask how one should think about sovereignty in a post-R2P globalized world as the center(s) of world politics shifts from the West toward the East. Is the emergence of Eastphalia an opportune moment to rethink extant concepts of political ordering or does Westphalian sovereignty remain a strategically useful instrument for the protection of vulnerable populations in the world?
Young Chul Cho (Chonbuk National University, Korea)
A Post-Western IR Understanding of Self/Other Relations in Korean Popular Culture
The aim of this paper is two-fold. Firstly, it critically examines how mainstream, Western-centric IR theories make sense of the relationships between self and others in international relations. Secondly, it explores an Indigenous way of understanding the self-other nexus in modern Korea which is not simply a critical step of rethinking Western-centric, rationalist epistemology of the self-other dialectic in IR, but can be a pre-theoretical clue for imagining post-western IR theory. In so doing, this paper attempts to address the question of whether the current language of IR requires novel (post-Western) terms and concepts for depicting the complexity and dynamics of global life. Methodologically, this paper looks at popular culture – especially, at novels – to discern a Korean way of making sense of self/other engagement and the international. This paper will argue that mainstream IR theories as problem-solving theories for great powers reveal a hegemonic self that uses the logic of conquest and conversion to deal with others in international affairs. It is further argued that the subordinate actors could adopt deferral as a mode of engagement with the hegemonic power. Deferral can be understood as “an attitude that rejects black-and-white oversimplications, a worldview prepared to recognize that history imposes insurmountable constraints but which nevertheless refuses to surrender either to quietistic resignation or to naively self-destructive heroism.”
Virginie Grzelczyk (Aston University, UK)
A Different Brand of Interdependence? North Korea in a Post-Cold War World
North Korea is notable and understood by the West and especially the United States within the framework of potential risks and conflict it brings to the rest of the world, be it because of its nuclear program or its seemingly belligerent foreign policy toward South Korea. As a result, North Korea’s foreign partnerships have stayed largely ignored by the West as they were deemed insignificant in light of more polarized relations. But from police training force in Uganda to technical cooperation with Iran to Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2012 with Fiji at the Non-Aligned Summit, Pyongyang is engaged in diplomatic maneuvers and interdependent processes with a number of non-Western countries. Does this mean that a non-Western state so peculiar and isolated as North Korea could actually behave in a similar fashion to other Western states, in the end? By using data extracted from coding North Korea’s relationships with 192 countries around the world, and focusing especially on third world and emerging nations, this paper questions the assumption of North Korea as the ‘other’, a radically different actor that cannot be understood within the framework proposed by International Relations Theory.
Yee-Kuang Heng (National University of Singapore)
Japan’s normative soft power as a global trouble-shooter: ‘Returnism’ and the Asianisation of Western practices?
Under Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, much has been said of Japan’s turn towards nationalism amid fears of its remilitarisation. Japanese foreign policy today is in fact more nuanced, comprising a mix of at least three different approaches: what Inoguchi (2014) terms ‘classical realist’; ‘transformative pragmatist’ and a ‘liberal international line’. This paper firstly, adds another notion of ‘normative soft power’ to help explain how and why Japan has been positioning itself as a trouble-shooter and defender of global norms, defining what is ‘legitimate behaviour’ though access to global commons. Secondly, it contends that Japan, by pursuing these approaches in its revamped diplomacy and policy-making structures, essentially reflects the idea of ‘returnism’ whereby scholars and analysts tend to re-embrace concepts of state behaviour that are essentially Western, even in ostensibly new circumstances.
Emilian Kavalski (Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University)
From International Relations to International Relationality… Or Can We Really Guanxi in World Affairs?
L.H.M. Ling (The New School, USA)
A Daoist/Samkhya “Third Space” for International Relations and World Politics
This paper presents the notion of a “third space” for International Relations (IR) and World Politics (WP). It stems from the ancient philosophies of Daoism and Samkhya that emanated from East and South Asia between 6-4 centuries BCE. We see its substantiation in the ancient Silk Roads (1st-15th centuries AD) in what we call the Silk Road Ethos (SRE). It demonstrates how we can break the logic of violence that has so monopolized IR/WP for the past five centuries. Indeed, hegemonic IR’s epistemic violence manifests daily in the bombings, killings, raids, and kidnappings that mirror less seemingly immediate but equally violent policies in immigration, employment, religious tolerance, and Self/Other relations. The SRE as a “third space” will help to heal, recover, and reconstitute IR/WP.
Chengxin Pan (Deakin University, Australia)
Living in Hybridity: Easthpalia as Transnationally Negotiated Practices
The rise of Asia (and China in particular) has prompted scholars, commentators and policy-makers to announce the arrival of the ‘Asian Century’ and even ‘a world without the West’. However, uncritical use of time-honoured geographical terms such as ‘Asia’, ‘East’, and ‘West’, along with their often taken-for-granted geopolitical connotations, hampers a better understanding of this fast changing world. Drawing on the concept of hybridity from post-colonial theory, this paper aims to move beyond these seemingly natural categories and to question the Asianness of the Eastphalian normative order in the ‘Asian Century’. It argues that Eastphalia is neither purely Eastern nor Western, but represents a historically contingent outcome of transnationally negotiated practices both between and within East and West, and South and North. Such, indeed, is the characteristic of the fluid, hybrid regional/world order in which many Asian countries have been living for the past two centuries, if not millennia. As the tumultuous history of modern China can attest, coping with non-self-centred hybridity has been fraught with trepidation and ambivalence as well as opportunity. Appreciating and engaging with Eastphalian hybridity is now a challenge that the ‘West’ has to face in a hitherto ‘Western’-dominated field of transnational practices.
Kosuke Shimzu (Ryukoku University, Japan)
Why Are Japanese Scholars Not Interested in Non-Western Discourses? Genealogy of Japanese IR
This paper addresses the question why Japanese IR scholars do not pay much attention to the non-Western IR discourse. It seems that there is a yawning gap between the traditional IR of American realism and the radical identity politics of postmodernism, and unorthodox approaches have opportunities to get recognized in it. The Chinese School of IR is a typical example of this new movement. However, Japanese scholars have yet to show an interest in the newly emerging discourse. This paper contends that the reason for such lack of enthusiasm is two-fold. First, self-claimed Japanese realists are under profound influence of American realism, thus do not find the non-Western IR discourse plausible. Second, non-mainstream Japanese scholars can be found mainly taking historical approaches to IR, and often focusing on local narratives of foreign relations, thus non-Western IR discourse does not appear to them to be a newly emerging discourse. However, the regional studies scholars are marginalized in the Japanese IR literature despite the accumulated knowledge of unorthodox approaches to IR mainly due to the absence of theorizing of these endeavours. Therefore what is needed here is the theorization of the particularist and historicist knowledge of politics in order to contribute to the existing IR literature.
Shogo Suzuki (University of Manchester, UK)
The Rise of China and the ‘Democratisation’ of International Society
China’s rise has now become both an economic and political reality that has been accepted by both China and the rest of the world. Accordingly, China has gradually moved away from its cautious policy of ‘keeping a low profile’ to a more proactive one of ‘doing something’ for international order. One of its long-espoused goals is the ‘democratisation’ of international relations, which is essentially a policy of making international politics less hegemonic. But to what extent has this become a reality, and what alternative visions have the Chinese been able to offer? This paper will explore some of the Chinese debates that take place in this context, and simultaneously consider whether or not we are entering a qualitatively new international order.
Hung-jen Wang (National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan)
China’s Rise and the Architecture of an ‘Eastphalian’ Order
If the construction of Westphalian world order brought out the nowadays universally accepted (or recognized) Western norms such as the principles of state sovereignty, legal equality of states, and non-intervention, this paper tries to ask what exactly, if any, constitute the potential world order of an “Eastphalia”. This paper assumes that if an Eastphalian world order is possible/emerging, the context of China’s rise is the necessary, though not sufficient, factor to such possibility or emergence. Indeed, China’s traditional relations with its Asian neighbors in history have provided both theoretical and empirical foundations for an Eastphalia under construction. What is interesting is that such Eastphalia is a learning process in the making: Asian states, particularly a rising China, appropriate and defend the Westphalian norms, while seeking self-reform/self-transformation of what they have learned. In this way, a possible emergence of an Eastphalia or Eastphalian order is not simply the result of the dichotomy between East and West, but could be a hybridity of both.
Pichamon Yeophantong (University of New South Wales, Australia)
On Governability and Chinese Non-Interventionism in World Affairs
This paper examines China’s approach to non-interventionism in world affairs through the prism of ‘governability’ thought. It argues, from an historical perspective, that Chinese attitudes toward (non–)intervention are not necessarily changing as a result of shifting understandings of sovereignty and the humanitarian imperative; rather, the decision as to whether China sanctions intervention in a particular case rests more with governability considerations, which place importance on maintaining – not imposing – order and enhancing the capacity for ‘self-governance’ of the state in question. Here, Chinese thinking on governability presents an alternative view of how governance at the interstate level ought to be exercised, going beyond prevailing practices and discourses of global governance as premised upon a (neo)liberal governmentality. The paper illustrates how the idea of governability has deep roots in China’s past, flowing from the cyclical historiography inherent in Chinese political thought on the interactions between zhi (order) and luan (chaos). Blurring the boundaries separating the domestic from the international realm, it advocates a vision of ‘global governance’ based not on the creation of universalising norms and values, but on the acceptance of normative diversity and the legitimacy of difference.
Ayşe Zarakol (Cambridge University, UK)
Uses and Abuses of History in ‘Eastphalian’ Theorising
The Eurocentric assumptions of mainstream IR theory has rightly come under criticism in recent decades, which have also witnessed developments that some have characterised as the ‘Rise of the Rest.’ There is therefore a hope that theory originating in the thus empowered ‘Rest-ern’ countries can help move the field away from its Eurocentricism and more adequately prepare it for the emergent ‘Eastphalian’ order. This paper will argue that the obstacles to such theorising are greater than often assumed by focusing on the uses of history and historical methods in theory-building. More specifically I will demonstrate that historical narratives of ‘Rest-ern’ countries reproduce versions of Eurocentricism and the attempts to overcome this bias is beleaguered by problems in secondary sources which have themselves been shaped by the legacy of Westphalian expansion. The paper will conclude with a discussion of the possible ways these pitfalls may be avoided.
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