2013 Submitted Papers
The BISA Conference Papers Database aims to be a valuable resource for anyone interested in BISA studies. It contains abstracts and papers presented by established academics, practitioners and doctoral students at previous BISA conferences.
'The Ambiguous and Altering Great Illusion of Norman Angell'
A New Space for Knowledge and People? Henri Lefebvre, Representations of Space, and the Production of 22@Barcelona
The ‘Barcelona Model’ of urban transformation has for some time now been considered a paradigmatic case of successful regeneration. Urban change is ongoing in the city, albeit in a changed global context in which cities are increasingly being seen as the principle drivers of economic growth and competitiveness in the ‘new’ or ‘knowledge economy’. The article draws upon the writing of Henri Lefebvre, and upon his critique of representations of space in particular, in order to examine the current strategic transformation of the Poblenou district of Barcelona into ‘22@Barcelona: an innovation district’. The article endorses Lefebvre’s work as a point of departure in critically analysing contemporary strategies of engineering urban competitiveness. It argues that the functionalist and reductive representations of 22@Barcelona betray an ideological concern with the concretisation of globally competitive abstract space, the reduction of differences, and the closing of the circuit of everyday life in Poblenou.
Accountability: the New Tyranny?
This paper investigates perceptions of the extent to which NGO peer-regulation initiatives have been effective in enhancing levels of accountability across the humanitarian and development sector. It is based upon semi-structured interviews with individuals with responsibility for accountability policy from leading NGOs and focuses on two of the best-known initiatives: HAP and Sphere. It finds that the initiatives have prompted positive changes in practice, but there are significant concerns about their deleterious impacts. Participants describe a host of challenges, including the tendency of peer-regulation to become excessively bureaucratic and labor-intensive. They cast some doubt on the potential of the initiatives to assist NGOs to be more accountable to people and communities.
Constructivist Political Economy and the Analysis of Elite Ideas and Coordinative Discourses
Constructivist political economy is now a firmly established perspective within the field. A prominent strand in this literature is those studies that make claims over the content of the ideas and ‘coordinative discourses’ of elite actors, including policymakers. In this paper I offer a friendly critique of this strand. I argue that insufficient clarity has been offered regarding the methodological process through which such claims are constructed, which serves both to inhibit the sharing of methodological practice, and, perhaps more problematically, to leave these authors exposed to a hostile anti-constructivist critique that calls into question the possibility of such research. After outlining the form such a hostile critique might take, I then offer a reply. In doing so I draw upon the interpretivist methodology deployed in my own research, which has been informed to a great extend by the epistemological writings of Bevir and Rhodes. I conclude that explicitly asserting and debating a constructivist methodology is desirable if the insights of research on elite ideas and coordinative discourses are to be preserved for the broader academic and non-academic communities, and that adopting an interpretivist approach offers a basis on which such research might be defended.
Generating Credibility in a Time of Crisis
It is widely accepted that establishing a reputation for competent economic management is a key pillar on which governments’ credibility is built. And while in good times a range of indicators of macroeconomic success rest at policymakers’ fingertips, this paper explores the techniques used by successive UK governments to generate credibility throughout the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Through our analysis of Budget Statements and Autumn Statements
delivered from 2007-2012 we highlight the range of discursive techniques employed by successive Chancellors, demonstrating that ‘blame shifting’ and ‘external validation’ have been increasingly widely used through this period. Moreover, while a major shift in Chancellors’ framings of the basis of economic competence accompanied the transfer of
power from the Labour to the Coalition government, we find a high degree of continuity in the overarching ‘enthymemes’ employed during the individual administrations. In exploring
the relationship between economic crisis and ideational change, we suggest that a range of rhetorical techniques have been used to support Chancellors’ discursive stability through this crisis period in the UK.
Hierarchical relationships in climate governance
As a matter of course climate governance is described as being non-hierarchical, often as a way of offering a distinction between 'traditional' state-led regulatory governance, and newer forms of governance where private actors, substate public agencies, and others are said to also be authoritative actors. This understanding of hierarchy, however, emphasizes structure to the detriment of relationships. While the structure of the landscape of climate governance may be non-hierarchical, it is arguably meaningful to speak of hierarchical authority relationships between actors and institutions within this landscape. This paper argues that relational authority offers a way of conceptualizing how actors relate to each other in terms of legitimate authority in decision-making. Hierarchical relationships suggest a situation where one actor possesses superior authority over another, able to command compliance, and where this situation is accepted by the subordinate actor as legitimate. Power, in this case, is not reduced to simply material coercion, but instead includes consent by the actors to a relationship judged to be legitimate. Relational hierarchy takes seriously inequality between actors and asks how this matters for authority relationships. And ultimately, understanding the nature and variation of authority relationships offers a way of considering power in the patterns and outcomes of climate governance.
Choudhary, Ladhu Ram
India in the nuclear global order: responsible? irresponsible? inevitable?
India’s nuclear behaviour constitutes a deviant case. The puzzle pertains to the reversal in judgement concerning India’s nuclear behaviour. The puzzle that the paper engages with is as follows: why it is that India, which was admonished for its nuclear behaviour in 1970s and 1990s came to be judged as a ‘responsible nuclear state with advanced nuclear technology’ in 2005? What made this perceptional transition possible? Does the transition reflect the nature of India’s nuclear behaviour? or is it a projection of India’s nuclear image from the so-called international community?
The contention is that the characterisation of India as a ‘responsible nuclear state’ is based on strategic logic, which serves the interests of the US and its allies. The paper argues that India’s nuclear behaviour needs to be appreciated from the vantage point of society: Indian society and international society. The International Relations scholarship in India has been confined to the surface level, superficial, statist viewpoint in the case of India’s nuclear behaviour. The involvement of the state machinery and a section of the intelligentsia in distorting the reality of India’s nuclear track record is hardly recognised in the mainstream discourse.
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Islamic Feminism: Oxymoronic or Compatible?
Islamic feminism, as it has been labelled, has proven, and is still proving, to be a controversial issue throughout the Muslim world. The issues it covers range from the private to the public sphere with demands being made with regard to women’s right to divorce their husbands; their right to work (in any field); their right to participate and be represented in local and regional politics; their right to legal equality; and their right to choose how they dress, whether it be veiled or unveiled. These, however, only cover a few of the demands being made. In order to have a balanced discussion on the discourse of Islamic feminism, a comparison will be done of Egypt and Iran. This will take on a thematic approach with issues such as how Islamic feminism relates to each state; how groups have developed and what it is they seek to change; and finally, whether there is a future for Islamic feminism. This paper will argue that women have sought, and still seek, equal rights to men; the methods they used to establish groups were similar to those used by other movements in the Muslim world. In both states the feminist movement has been criticised for being ‘Westernised’ and ‘corrupt’. This paper will also argue that there is no great distinction between Islamic feminism and ‘Western feminism’ as they all seek the same rights; the primary difference is the environment in which they are trying to promote them. Finally, the main argument of this paper will be that it is not religion that makes a difference, but the manner in which it is interpreted; therefore Islam and feminism can be seen as compatible.
Labelling coffee: the role of states, multinationals and social movements in ethical labelling
The decline of the state has created space for other types of international activity to thrive. This paper examines this shift in political authority by comparing the role of the state with that of two non-state actors—multinational corporations (MNCs) and social movements—in product certification; Fair Trade and organic products. Product certification allows examination of the interaction between these actors since it has called for their increased communication. It allows identification of the relative role and influence of states in certification. Has their role declined as social movements have taken the lead in implementing an ethical approach to the production and trading of agricultural goods? Have states been excluded from a process where business has decided to engage with social movements on ethical considerations as these concerns become mainstream? What explains this shift and what are its future implications?
This paper examines one product—coffee—which can be both organic and Fair Trade and traces the involvement of non-state actors in certification processes since the demise of the International Coffee Agreement in 1989. It explains differences between agency in the two movements through three factors: the movements' respective histories; the development of ideas on environmental and labour standards in national and international institutions; and the expansion of multilateral trade. As such, the organic movement today has a far higher involvement of national governments than that of Fair Trade and several implications of this have been identified here.
The analysis suggests it would be advisable to bring the influence of the state partially back in to Fair Trade. By keeping the state out, private labelling initiatives ensure a maintenance of state sovereignty in setting domestic politics on social and environmental standards by preventing these from becoming part of a broad WTO mandate which could have potential negative impacts on the ability of small developing countries to export. Yet state involvement could help to ensure that the Fair Trade initiative is not subject to unbridled corporate influence and that it does not create barriers to non-certified producers. It is a matter of maintaining a balance of state and non-state actor involvement to ensure that social and environmental standards are upheld while protecting state sovereignty from an ever-expanding WTO mandate and encouraging fair market access for developing country producers. Finding this balance is a challenge which Fair Trade should certainly rise to as its popularity, visibility, and therefore influence, increase.
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Legitimacy and international organisation governance: China as a solution or a challenge?
The development of international organisations carries two distinctive features: one, the dominance of the West; two, the influence of the rise and fall of great powers. How does China, a non-Western power on the rise, challenge the existing structure of international organisations and the management of global affairs? This paper assesses the extent to which a rising China changes the existing system of rules of global governance. Based on the studies of the International Health Regulations (2005), the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and the role and functions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, it examines both the quantitative and qualitative changes as a result of China’s involvement. It argues that the changes are uneven due to the compatible and competing interests of the great powers in different areas, and are incremental rather than paradigmatic, but the trend of change is likely to be enduring. The China factor therefore assumes increasing significance in the theory and practice of international organisations.
Liberal Peace and Political Autonomy
This paper considers the place of political autonomy in the construction of liberal peace in post-conflict societies. The argument is built up through a discussion of UN peacekeeping, one of the prime means of disseminating the liberal peace. While the paper acknowledges that peacekeeping is often compared to colonialism, it is argued here that a critique of peacekeeping must go beyond comparisons with colonialism to question the UN’s right to claim impartiality, and the legitimacy of its multilateral operations. One way to accurately characterise UN activity and capture its oppressive characteristics is to see UN peacekeeping as a form of international policing. In relations between nations, policing necessarily impinges on political autonomy. It is argued that the dissemination of a pre-given political order demonstrates how conceptions of liberal peace restrict political choice.
Costa Buranelli, Filippo
May we Have a Say? Central Asian States in the UN General Assembly
After the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the five Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) have joined a number of international organisations, most notably the UN, to show and enhance their new and unexpected sovereign agency in the international system. However, while their membership within the organisation is often taken for granted and used by scholarship on Central Asia as an example of their “race to membership”, few studies if none have addressed not only how these state relate themselves with the organisation, but also what it means for them in terms of political opportunities and how they behave in it. By using he theoretical lenses of the English School of International Relations and by focusing on a specific branch of the UN, namely the General Assembly, this paper seeks to shed light on the normative stands of these states as expressed within the organisation, how, on what and when they vote, whether common positions and strategies exist and what role the organisation is assigned to by them is. It is argued that an analysis of their words and votes on specific issues reveals precise shared normative commitments of the five states to a pluralist vision of international society, thus tentatively moving beyond the common narrative of Central Asia as in perennial conflict, and that the UN is seen as a vital element in preserving the political and security-related stability of the region.
Network-centric violence, critical Infrastructure and the urbanisation of security
This paper addresses the question of whether contemporary global urbanisation is characterised by a distinctive relationship between the city and warfare. In particular it examines the specific way in which two particular forms of warfare – so-called ‘al-Qaeda’ terrorism and American tactics in Iraq – target urban infrastructure. I argue that infrastructure is targeted because it is a constitutive feature of contemporary urban life. Metropolitan life is marked by its constitutive relation to urban infrastructure. The paper thus suggests that this targeting of infrastructure provides a lens through which to investigate some of the central questions posed by the contemporary urbanisation of security.
Objecting Objects: Be(com)ing North Koreans in an affective world
Postcolonial, poststructural and feminist theories help us see how an ever-expanding abstract but
distinct ‘international’ is established by positing some other bodies, ideologies, ideas, spaces and
times as deviant, lacking, threatening and to lie outside this international. Building on these works,
this paper argues that the North Korean Other – signifier of cold war anachronism, roguery and
deviance with shifting referents – exists (or to be more precise, North Korea as an Other exists)
because it enables the constitution, definition, maintenance and consolidation of ‘the international’. I
argue that the ‘North Korea problem’ is a problem of asymmetrical intercultural relations that requires
critical intervention. The main tenet of my argument is that an intervention attuned to intercultural
issues must crucially involve deconstructing and reconstructing the North Korean Other to address the
question of agency of the Other. It examines North Korean defector memoirs as a site of intercultural
communication and understanding that demands change in, and reformulation of, existing political
reality both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ North Korea. In light of the difficulties that arise in this site, the
possibilities in the impossibility of reconstructing and actualising the agency of the Other are explored
through the contradictory but resonant conceptual languages introduced by Trinh Minh-ha and
Re-imagining the World through Chinese Eyes: The search for a `Chinese School' of international relations theory
In recent years a number of prominent scholars working within the Chinese academy have invested significant time and resources into searching for or attempting to define a distinctly Chinese approach to theorising international politics and a still others have lamented its absence.
This paper considers a number of recent attempts by Chinese scholars to examine, explore and/or challenge the position of their scholarship in relation to the global “discipline” of international relations. It is concerned particularly with their attempts to define an international relations theory with “Chinese characteristics” or a “Chinese School” of IR.
It considers the potential for such imaginings to destabilise dominant `truths' in the discipline of international relations and to provide us with alternative modes of understanding and studying world politics. The paper views theory and theorising as a site of cultural practice, a place where the boundaries of acceptable knowledge of/about the world are negotiated; as a site of politics. It is in this context that I consider the “China school” debate as a source for a possible subversive politics of international relations theory.
The complex web of the present: Re-engaging with Fernand Braudel
Fernand Braudel offers ways to bridge IPE to ‘the real world.’ We still lack a veritable analysis of what Braudelian-inspired IPE might look like. While Braudel has been taken up by scholars of political economy, the complexity that characterises his work on civilisation and capitalism is usually left aside. Scholars have essentially focused on global capitalism, ignoring material reality. The disciplinary borders of IPE remain frustratingly constricted through a narrow ontology, leaving out critical elements of material and ideational reality. What’s being left out matters and it matters even more so now, in this period of change where political economy is ‘messier.’ Beginning with the premise that “the extensiveness of any capitalism is in direct proportion to the underlying economy,” this paper argues the case for re-engagement with Braudel’s work. Braudel’s method of inquiry can cast a wide investigative net and pick up on shifts and transformations taking place outside our habitual frames of enquiry. The time is right to respond to Braudel’s invitation to keep looking down into the well, into the deepest water, down into material life in order to understand the upper echelons.
The Constitution of the Moral Individual in Theories of Market Relations
The global economic crisis has necessitated renewed critical reflection on dominant understandings of economy and society, not least in much contemporary IPE scholarship which enjoys the intellectual space to theorise market relations in their social context and in a reflexive manner. Utilising this intellectual space to reflect upon theories of market relations themselves, this paper argues that in order to integrate a sociological perspective into IPE it is crucial for scholars to focus attention on the constitution of the moral individual in understandings of market relations. In so doing it builds on the political economy and moral philosophy of Adam Smith. Specifically, it points to some of the key ‘mythologies’ that surround Smith’s work in order to show how once these are dispelled he can be said to provide something of a sociological perspective for IPE and to show how the dominant misinterpretations of his work are actually telling in terms of what they reveal about contemporary attempts to understand market relations. This paper then indicates some notable areas of IPE research that take up the task, from a Smithian perspective, of exploring shifting understandings relating to the constitution of the moral individual with reference to the recent economic crisis.
The End of End-states? Risk logic and principles in contemporary strategy
In many contemporary strategic approaches the primary object to be analyzed and explained has tended to be the Other and its habitat. Once it has been identified and mapped, a strategy that connects the right tools with the right objectives could be formulated. Though Strategic Studies do recognize the changing conditions for warfare,for most scholars there are no fundamental changes in the rationale for strategy.
The primary aim of this paper is to show the important impact of risk logic and why the conditions of a risk society are closely linked to the difficulties in contemporary conflict of setting clear end-states and objectives for mainly Western armed forces. Building on this knowledge, a secondary aim is to develop principles for the risk strategist and in doing so fill a gap in the literature on contemporary strategy.
The Euro Crisis and European Security
The current eurozone crisis is widely viewed as the most severe crisis in the history of the European Union (EU). While primarily an economic crisis, it has major implications for international political relations, international institutions and security in Europe, as well as for Europe’s, especially the EU’s, ambitions as a global actor. This paper will analyse the impact to date and potential future impact of the on-going eurozone crisis and reflect on the implications for theoretical understandings of European security and Europe’s international role. Despite the arguments of some (neo-)realists that the current crisis of European integration results from (neo-)realist power dynamics, the paper will argue that liberal and historical institutionalist theories in fact still provide a more convincing framework for understanding the current and likely future international political and security environment in Europe. The paper will conclude, however, that the most likely medium-term scenario is a European ‘lost decade’, in which the continent remains mired in economic problems and debate over the EU’s political structures, with consequent implications for Europe’s, especially the EU’s, capacity and will to exert influence internationally.
The extending scale of accumulation in Africa-Europe migrant labour regimes: new frontiers in the remittance market
In pre-1980s understandings of labour mobility between West African labour reserves and European centres of capital, migrant labour energised capital accumulation because the migrant worker received subsistence wages while the sending household covered the costs of reproduction, training, social welfare, retirement and other indirect expenses; therefore the labour was comparatively cheap. Partial destruction of the sending community was both a cause and consequence of separating these costs. This paper argues that the neoliberal era presents a diffused and unpredictable labour regime, which however recreates this dynamic and also deepens the role of capital accumulation in different, discrete moments of labour migration.
Examples of this extensive reach are found in new displacements of people in waves of accumulation by dispossession, and on the receiving end, in states’ use of tightened border controls to manage the circulation of labour and restrict the status of migrants, thus meeting growing pressures for competitive labour costs. The main focus of this paper, however, is on the ‘new frontier’ of remittances. Since 2007, there has been an IFI-driven agenda to formalise remittance flows by introducing financial intermediaries to this largely informal process. This has been connected with development and poverty alleviation, yet it also opens a new path for the pursuit of profit in what is seen as an expanding market. This paper shows how the policy has become operationalised and in conjunction, examines processes of labour migration and the existing channels of remittances revealed in ethnographic research.
The Pacification of Soldiering, and the Militarization of Development: Contradictions Inherent in Provincial Reconstruction in Afghanistan
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are a new military phenomenon, and present an excellent opportunity to explore the links of militarization and development, and the policy implications of human security. These teams are supposed to be involved in helping, listening, caring, supporting and cooperating with local communities and the development community, activities which seem to be at odds with the aggressive physical masculinity of combat Units. An examination of these different articulations and practices of gender should provide insight into internal dynamics of the military around conducting ‘complex operations’, about how various components of the military perceive local populations and humanitarian organizations, and crucially the inter-play between humanitarian and combat operations. And I will examine the role of the Afghan state and Afghan communities and insurgents in appropriating and reconfiguring this rescue discourse, notions of internationalism, and the gender and professional identities of this intervention industry.
The Paradox of Liberalism in a Globalising World
Liberalism inherently involves a profound paradox that has shaped its trajectory in the modern world over more than two centuries and is ever more relevant in a in a new century of what has come to be called globalisation. Understanding this paradox is ever more relevant in an international political economy dominated by financial crises, austerity and the shrinking of the welfare state – not to mention the challenges of multiculturalism, democratisation, the changing face of the use of force and violence, and the proliferation of transnational governance processes and webs of power. The late 20th and 21st centuries have been characterised by a fundamental restructuring of liberalism itself, but the outcome of this shift is yet to be determined, shaped as it will be by multilayered, crosscutting political processes and the as yet embryonic political action of key strategically situated groups.