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Uses of 'the West'
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Book description

The notion of 'the West' is commonly used in politics, the media, and in the academic world. To date, our idea of 'the West' has been largely assumed and effective, but has not been examined in detail from a theoretical perspective. Uses of 'the West' combines a range of original and topical approaches to evaluate what 'the West' really does, and how the idea is being used in everyday political practice. This book examines a range of uses of 'the West', and traces how 'the West' works in a broad array of conceptual and empirical contexts, ranging from the return of geopolitics - via a critical review of the debates surrounding Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilization thesis - to the question of the future of 'the West'. Analysis extends further to the repercussions of the war on terror on Western democracy and the processes of delineating the Western from the non-Western, as well as observations of the institutional transformations of Western order.


'The grand simplifier of 'the West' perniciously pervades scholarship as often as the daily news. The editors of this book have performed a great service to all of us in theorizing this concept, examining its use and inquiring into its transformative potential. The complexity that the concept of the West blankets reminds the reader of Jacob Burckhardt's dictum: 'beware of the terrible simplifiers.'

Peter J. Katzenstein - Walter S. Carpenter, Jr Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

'This book offers an exemplary thick description that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. 'The West' may be less of a commonplace than it was, but the energy that goes into denouncing it is still more than enough for it to remain a key concept.'

Iver B. Neumann - Montague Burton Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics

'This is a superb collection of original essays on the ubiquitous, yet ambiguous, category of 'the West'. Uses of 'the West' helps to both de-essentialize received verities and to open up new pathways for interrogating the historical present. Hellmann and Herborth have done a remarkable job in steering a meaningful and thought-provoking conversation in International Relations and Historical Sociology.'

Mustapha Kamal Pasha - Chair in International Politics, Aberystwyth University, Wales

'Paradoxically, the 'West' is one of the most constant and undertheorized categories within International Relations, even among critical scholars. By 'unpacking' the concept the contributors to this brilliant volume offer key insights into its diverse roles in world-making.'

Arlene B. Tickner - Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

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