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Christopher Daase, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and Goethe University Frankfurt,Nicole Deitelhoff, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and Goethe University Frankfurt,Antonia Witt, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
International Relations scholars are increasingly studying different forms of sub- and superordination in the international system through analytical lenses such as hierarchy, hegemony, or authority. Drawing on these debates, this introduction sets out to establish the concept of rule as the defining feature of order in the international realm. More specifically, we argue that the manifold conceptual approaches to sub- and superordination in the international should be understood as rich conceptualizations of one concept: rule. We define rule broadly as constellations of formally or informally institutionalized sub- and superordination with the aim of affecting the distribution of basic goods and influence and of stabilizing expectations, regardless of whether these constellations are primarily of sociocultural, economic, or military nature. With this, we aim at advancing a research agenda that defines rule as a systematic approach to studying international politics. By promoting the concept of rule, we aim to show that rule can serve both as an integrating and a diagnostic tool for the study of the international “beyond anarchy.”
There is hardly any aspect of social, political, and economic life today that is not also governed internationally. Drawing on debates around hierarchy, hegemony, and authority in international politics, this volume takes the study of the international 'beyond anarchy' a step further by establishing the concept of rule as the defining feature of order in the international realm. The contributors argue that the manifold conceptual approaches to sub- and superordination in the international should be understood as rich conceptualizations of one concept: rule. Rule allows constellations of sub- and superordination in the international to be seen as multiplex, systemic, and normatively ambiguous phenomena that need to be studied in the context of their interplay and consequences. This volume draws on a variety of conceptualizations of rule, exploring, in particular, the practices of rule as well as the relational and dynamic characteristics of rule in international politics.
The article explores the complicity of children’s picturebooks in the construction and critique of world politics. Focusing on The Gruffalo, it argues that this spectacularly successful book: (1) stories the international as a pessimistic, anarchical world populated by self-interested, survival-seekers; (2) disrupts this reading and its assumptions through evocation of the social production of threat; and, (3) provides a more fundamental decolonial critique of the international through parochial privileging of its protagonist’s journey through a ‘deep dark wood’. In doing this, we argue, the book vividly demonstrates the world’s susceptibility to multiple incompatible readings, while rendering visible the assumptions, framing, and occlusions of competing understandings of the international. As such, it theorises both world politics and knowledge thereof as contingent and unstable. In making this argument, three contributions are made. First, empirically, we expand research on popular culture and world politics through investigating a surprisingly neglected example of the former. Second, theoretically, we demonstrate the work such texts perform in (re)creating and (de)stabilising (knowledge of) global politics. Third, we offer a composite methodological framework for future research into the context, content, and framing of complex texts like The Gruffalo.
Despite the increasing centrality of Internet memes for everyday political circulations and practices, their emergent implications as low-cultural artefacts of global politics have received little theoretical attention. In this article, I develop a critical theory of memes to provide a conceptual apparatus to understand the global political implications and possibilities of this pop-cultural phenomenon. I argue that, in order to attend to the emergent implications of memes and consider their differentiations from other pop-cultural phenomena, we need to unpack the spatial logic through which memes emerge and circulate. Analysing this spatial logic through the concept of the ‘memescape’ and deploying Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s notions of striated and smooth spaces, this article articulates the spatial logic of the memescape as comprising rhizomatic, decentralised circulations of digital content; nomadic, playful, and humorous disruptions of once-stable signs; and affective congregations of a multiplicity of subjects. Through two examples exploring how these smooth spatial tendencies produce divergent political potentials in the resistant memes of Indigenous digital communities and reactionary memes of the Alt-Right, I conclude that the global politics of the memescape is open-ended and undetermined which requires careful and nuanced political and ethical attention to actualise its futures for emancipatory horizons.
Chapter 2 positions the book within the interdisciplinary literature on international law and develops its theoretical framework and the concept of intersubjective legalism, borrowing insights from ‘practice’ studies. The research framework builds upon the works of Kratochwil, Brunnée and Toope, and Johnstone, situating the meaning of legal rules within the ‘community of practice’ of international law, which enforces a set of shared understandings about what constitutes sound legal reasoning. Next, Chapter 2 integrates insights from critical legal studies and sociological studies of the juridical field to elucidate the power inequalities shaping interactions inside the community of legal practice. The centrality of expert knowledge as a source of power inside the juridical field suggests a reordering of the traditional perception of international politics: Inside the community of international legal practice states lose their central position, and actors such as judges, legal scholars, and non-governmental organizations gain leverage. The framework presented in Chapter 2 enables the investigation of the politics of the legal field, which take the form of competition over the authority to determine the meaning of legal rules. Finally, this chapter discusses the methods of analysis, namely discourse analysis and interviews.
While ontological security (OS) studies have gone through a recent evolution, shifting toward psychoanalytic and existential accounts of anxiety, this article argues there remains a deficient engagement with the affective environments within which actors operate. Specifically, focusing on shared emotions/affect allows for a thicker account of the mechanisms of OS – including the constitutive forces underpinning society/societal trust, the role/power of signifiers and narratives, and the basis upon which actors promote social change. Accordingly, it suggests Durkheim's social theory, his broader concept of ‘religion’ as an affective community constituted by faith in a moral order entwined with the sacred, offers a viable pathway to develop these insights and develop a new basis for the mechanisms of OS. The drive for OS thus becomes reconfigured as an effort to act faithfully toward a dynamic moral order, while ontological insecurity emerges from the unbearable lightness of being experienced within moral disorder. Following Durkheim's preliminary argument on nationalism representing the continuation of religion, we can then revise how/why nations are integral to OS and International Relations. Specifically, we can view foreign policy as informed by debates around how to act faithfully toward the moral order – a process interrelated with revitalization and renewal of the sacred.
The return of authoritarian great powers, the slowing of the democratic wave, and outright reversion to authoritarian rule pose important questions for international theory. What are the implications of an international system populated with more autocracies? This question was posed by a diverse array of social scientists, public intellectuals, and policy analysts in response to the autocratic wave in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. We show that a series of conversations emanating from quite diverse intellectual priors – from Christian realists to international lawyers and disaffected Marxists – converged on the risks these autocratic regimes posed to democratic regimes and the international order they sought to forge. These risks included unconstrained rulers, an inability to sustain international commitments and political processes that undermined rational deliberation at home and spread disinformation abroad. The reading of this work suggests an under-appreciated strand of liberal international relations theory, and these debates have direct implications for liberal arguments about the democratic peace. Rather than theorizing why democracies avoid war, they underscore the importance of understanding why authoritarian and democratic countries are particularly prone to conflict.
This chapter introduces the main argument of this book that global sovereign power is constituted by public/private hybridity in Lived Sovereignty, while sovereign authority is recognized as indivisibly public in Idealized Sovereignty. Public/private hybridity takes on different characteristics of contractual, institutional, and shadow forms based on the formalization and publicization of relations. In relation to hybrid sovereignty, the lived realities of different types of public/private hybridity are in tension with the idealized imperatives of determining what is public versus private.
This chapter theorizes that sovereignty is the interplay of two contrasting modalities. In Idealized Sovereignty, sovereign authority is represented exclusively in “the state” per the doctrine of indivisibility developed by early modern theorists and reified in IR theory. In Lived Sovereignty, achieving sovereign competence involves divisible practices of state and nonstate actors in a variety of social relations. We would do a disservice to sovereignty’s complexity if only one of the two modes persevered in analyses of sovereignty. Instead, the chapter intervenes in major IR debates to argue that sovereignty should be hybridized. This overarching framework guides the ideal-types of public/private hybridity developed in the next chapter and the empirical analyses in the remainder of this book, where hybrid sovereignty is necessary to build a global empire, go to war, regulate global markets, and protect rights.
The idea of 'hybrid sovereignty' describes overlapping relations between public and private actors in important areas of global power, such as contractors fighting international wars, corporations regulating global markets, or governments collaborating with nongovernmental entities to influence foreign elections. This innovative study shows that these connections – sometimes hidden and often poorly understood – underpin the global order, in which power flows without regard to public and private boundaries. Drawing on extensive original archival research, Swati Srivastava reveals the little-known stories of how this hybrid power operated at some of the most important turning points in world history: spreading the British empire, founding the United States, establishing free trade, realizing transnational human rights, and conducting twenty-first century wars. In order to sustain meaningful dialogues about the future of global power and political authority, it is crucial that we begin to understand how hybrid sovereignty emerged and continues to shape international relations.
How do we know when we are investing wisely in security? Answering this question requires investigating what things are worth securing (and why); what threatens them; how best to protect them; and how to think about it. Is it possible to protect them? How best go about protecting them? What trade-offs are involved in allocating resources to security problems? This book responds to these questions by stripping down our preconceptions and rebuilding an understanding of security from the ground up on the basis of a common-sense ontology and an explicit theory of value. It argues for a clear distinction between objective and subjective security threats, a non-anthropocentric understanding of security, and a particular hierarchy of security referents, looking closely at four in particular-the ecosphere, the state, culture, and individual human beings. The analysis will be of interest not only to students and scholars of International Relations, but also to practitioners.
Forest ecosystems are crucial to survival on Earth. This article argues that trees and forests are both vital components of a healthy Earth system and productive examples for expanding International Relations’ disciplinary boundaries. The article discusses the forest in three contexts: the global, the (post)colonial, and from the tree itself. From tree planting as a practice of social and environmental justice, to postcolonial and Indigenous science and knowledge, to the mycorrhizal ‘wood wide web’, a focus on trees, forests, and biosphere opens the possibility for a multispecies IR. Through a consideration of trees and forests in law, treaty, culture, and science at the local and global level, this article adds to a growing literature in IR that strives to bring the non-human, more-than-human, or other-than-human creatively and productively into the discipline. Foregrounding the forest's materiality and trees’ symbolic power for human cultures opens important pathways to understanding how the non-human is, and should, alter and affect global politics.
The Introduction first highlights the value added of practice approaches to international relations, and demonstrates how a practice perspective differs from other IR theoretical approaches. The chapter then offers a contextualization of practice theories in IR through a historical discussion that highlights the foundations of practice theoretical thought, its connections to, and shared assumptions with preceding IR scholarship, but also the ways in which it fundamentally differs from other theoretical approaches. With this narrative we respond to some allegations and misunderstandings within the discipline that the practice talk is plainly a reinvigoration of old ideas, that there is little new about practice approaches, or that they present us with a new version of constructivism. Third, we proceed in discussing the scope and contours of practice-driven research by discussing how the practice debate might be ordered. Arguing against pitching discrete practice approaches against each other, we draw attention to a number of fault lines that run through the practice debate, such as stability and change. We then showcase how each chapter in this volume engages with broader IR scholarship, and how it provides a new practice-driven vista on relevant IR questions.
Taking such a stance inevitably shifts the analysis towards production or some soteriological notion of knowledge. Instead, I point to the relevant issues of practical choices: situations (which are not just exhausted by known distributions or unreflected habits or routines but which require constant attention to surprises) to the temporality ofchoice in which present, past, and future interact that explode the intentional paradigm of action) and the issues of judgement (Kant’s Urteilskraft), which is a critical ability but does not coincide with algorithms or of testing theoretical propositions but which can be acquired only by acting within the social world, or as Hume had it is acquired by ‘commerce and conversation’ rather than by observation from an ideal standpoint.
The idea of integrative pluralism offers a promising path for the development of theory in international security and international relations. Instead of either trying to shoehorn all theorising into a single, limited paradigm or giving up entirely on theoretical progress, the integrative pluralist approach calls for bringing diverse approaches together. More precisely, integrative pluralism involves explaining specific phenomena by linking causal processes across multiple layers of reality, and then using the findings to inform broader theoretical constructs such as IR theory paradigms. Elements of the integrative pluralism approach are already visible in the work of mainstream scholars such as Snyder and Katzenstein, as well as of critical scholars such as Sjoberg and Hansen, but the field has tended to overlook these scholars’ efforts at theoretical integration. To more explicitly develop integrative pluralism for our field, this article first draws on critical realist philosophy and social theory. It then illustrates how further steps in this direction might be taken, in particular by highlighting the integrative pluralist aspects of Kaufman's applications of symbolic politics theory to explaining ethnic conflict and war more generally.
In Chapter 2, I draw from pragmatist philosophy and relational sociology to develop a new theory of normativity and institutional change. I propose the concept of a normative configuration as an alternative to the concept of a norm, defined as an arrangement of ongoing, interacting practices establishing action-specific regulation, value-orientation, and avenues of contestation. I argue that situated creativity, problem-solving, and the institutionalisation of action establish normativity within enduring social arrangements. This alternative conception helps clarify the origins of normativity in situations where existing IR theory is limiting, as I show through a review of scholarship on norms drawn both from the field of IR and from the social sciences and humanities more broadly. To develop this new concept, I draw heavily from the work of John Dewey, Hans Joas, and the insights of practice theorists.
In this concluding chapter, I discuss my overall findings and their implications. I draw three paired comparisons. Contrasting the first two cases, I find technology was especially important in determining the robustness of normative transformation. Contrasting the first two and third cases, I find normative transformation can occur even without a dedicated set of elite actors acting as ‘entrepreneurs’. Contrasting my approach with that of others, I find a focus on situated creativity, situational rather than personal agency, and a pragmatist view of action clarifies dynamics that are confusing in conventional constructivist theories. I also discuss how my approach may support investigations into other kinds of normative transformations, such as those involving diaspora communities and global governance. I finish by discussing how my findings and my approach support the projects of critical war and security studies and can inform activists and NGOs seeking to limit aggressive or militarised counterterrorism.
Pratt investigates the potential erosion of prohibiting assassination, torture, and mercenarism during the US's War on Terrorism. In examining the emergence and history of the US's targeted killing programme, detention and interrogation programme, and employment of armed contractors in warzones, he proposes that a 'normative transformation' has occurred, which has changed the meaning and content of these prohibitions, even though they still exist. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy, practice theory, and relational sociology, this book develops a new theory of normativity and institutional change, and offers new data about the decisions and activities of security practitioners. It is both a critical and constructive addition to the current literature on norm change, and addresses enduring debates about the role of culture and ethical judgement in the use of force. It will appeal to students and scholars of foreign and defence policy, international relations theory, international security, social theory, and American politics.
A central theme in the study of international relations is that anarchy requires states to set aside moral concerns to attain security, rendering IR an autonomous sphere devoid of ethical considerations. Evolutionary and moral psychology, however, suggest that morality emerged to promote human success under such conditions. It is not despite anarchy but because of anarchy that humans have an ethical sense. Our argument has three empirical implications. First, it is almost impossible to talk about threat and harm without invoking morality. Second, state leaders and the public will use moral judgments as a basis, indeed the most important factor, for assessing international threat, just as research shows they do at the interpersonal level. Third, foreign policy driven by a conception of international relations as an amoral sphere will be quite rare. Word embeddings applied to large political and nonpolitical corpora, a survey experiment in Russia, and an in-depth analysis of Hitler's foreign policy thought suggest that individuals both condemn aggressive behavior by others and screen for threats on the basis of morality. The findings erode notions of IR as an autonomous sphere and upset traditional materialist–ideational dichotomies.