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Morality and Progress: IR narratives on international revisionism and the status quo
University of Edinburgh, UK.
Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7290-2909
2019 (English)In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, ISSN 0955-7571, E-ISSN 1474-449X, Vol. 32, no 4, p. 407-428Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Scholars debate the ambitions and policies of today’s ‘rising powers’ and the extent to which they are revising or upholding the international status quo. While elements of the relevant literature provide valuable insight, this article argues that the concepts of revisionism and the status quo within mainstream International Relations (IR) have always constituted deeply rooted, autobiographical narratives of a traditionally Western-dominated discipline. As ‘ordering narratives’ of morality and progress, they constrain and organize debate so that revisionism is typically conceived not merely as disruption, but as disruption from the non-West amidst a fundamentally moral Western order that represents civilizational progress. This often makes them inherently problematic and unreliable descriptors of the actors and behaviours they are designed to explain. After exploring the formations and development of these concepts throughout the IR tradition, the analysis is directed towards narratives around the contemporary ‘rise’ of China. Both scholarly and wider political narratives typically tell the story of revisionist challenges China presents to a US/Western-led status quo, promoting unduly binary divisions between the West and non-West, and tensions and suspicions in the international realm. The aim must be to develop a new language and logic that recognize the contingent, autobiographical nature of ‘revisionist’ and ‘status quo’ actors and behaviours.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2019. Vol. 32, no 4, p. 407-428
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-8986DOI: 10.1080/09557571.2019.1623173OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-8986DiVA, id: diva2:1391447
Available from: 2020-02-04 Created: 2020-02-04 Last updated: 2020-02-24Bibliographically approved

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Nymalm, Nicola

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