(by Monica de Luna)
The first PRIMO conceptual workshop took place at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon. The workshop provided Early Stage Researchers and Experienced Researchers with a space to discuss recent conceptual developments in the field of Emerging Powers and Global Governance. The workshop that brought together in Lisbon experts from all the hemispheres, featured presentations and discussions around overarching, constructing and indigenous concepts necessary to understand regionalism and globalization.
Overarching concepts such as regional worlds, global order and global governance were discussed in the context of the presentations of Dr. Acharya on ‘Regional Worlds’, Dr. Hurrell on ‘Global Order’, Dr. Carlos Closa on ‘Comparative regionalism’, Dr. Detlef Nolte on ‘Regional Powers’ and Dr. Arie Kacowizc on ‘Global Governance’. Dr. Amitav Acharya, from the American University, discussed the concept ‘Regional Worlds’ and argued that regions constituted the foundation of an attempt to build a Global International Relations under the understanding that regions do not exist in isolation, but interact with the global. Dr. Acharya also casted light into how ‘regionalism’ distinguishes from ‘regionalization’, the first being the result of a political agenda and the second of spontaneous integration. He also presented some considerations into how neorrealists, liberals and constructivists approach the resurgence of regionalism. Dr. Andrew Hurrell, from the Univeristy of Oxford, reflected on the concept of ‘Global order’ and its contingency and unpredictability. He proposed that regionalism constitutes an order in itself and argued that different powers have differentiated reactions to the shifts in the order. Hegemonic powers may resist the emergence of multipolarity and emerging powers might embrace the shifts with enthusiasm. Dr. Carlos Closa, from the European University Institute, discussed the concept of ‘comparative regionalism’ in his presentation and reflected on how the concept of regionalism has become paradigmatic. He argued that regionalism can be defined not only politically, but by economic and legal conditions, such as trade, economic flow or the existence of treaties. He also presented some considerations into how the concept of region is contested and into the methodological difficulties to study regionalism, namely, the dominance of case-study methods, the view of the European Union as the normative model for other forms of regionalism and the challenges to create solid categories. Dr. Detlef Nolte, from the German Institute of Regional and Area Studies, argued that defining ‘regional power’ presented some conceptual challenges, as it is a twofold concept that includes ‘power’ and ‘region’ and includes different levels of analysis, such as the global and the regional. He argued that regional powers defend their prevailing position in the global order and, simultaneously, they challenge the current global order. Finally, Dr. Arie Kacowizc from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reflected on the concept of ‘Global Governance’ and other overlapping concepts such as ‘world society’, ‘world order’, ‘new medievalism’ or ‘world government’. He reflected on how ‘Global Governance’ can be studied both from an analytical and a normative perspective.
The contested concepts section of the workshop included the presentations of Dr. Eduardo Viola on ‘Climate Change’, of Dr. Julián Messina on ‘New middle or vulnerable classes’, and of Dr. Gian Luca Gardini on ‘Ideology and Pragmatism in Foreign Policy’. Dr. Viola, from the Universit of Brasilia, presented a classification of states in relation to their approaches to Climate Change. He argued that from that perspective, states can be conservative, moderate conservative and reformist. He also explained that from the World Systems Theory, Climate Change can be regarded as part of the crisis of capitalism. Conversely, from the point of view of constructivism, Climate Change governance and its struggles are seen as a normative battle. Dr. Messina, from the World Bank, argued that the emergence of middle classes are reshaping international and domestic politics, but he added that these new middle classes are vulnerable to economic fluctuations and under the risk of returning to poverty. Dr. Gardini, from the University of Nuremberg, presented an analysis of several case studies from Latin America where the dichotomy pragmatism and ideology is observed in their foreign policy.
The section of ‘Constructing concepts’ included the presentations of Dr. Matías Spektor from the Getulio Vargas Foundation on ‘The invention of a region’, of Patrick Finney from the University of Aberystwyth on ‘Collective memory’ and of Dr. Spektor on ‘Nuclear and non-nuclear powers’. Dr. Spektor argued on his presentation that the concept of region and its creation can be instrumentalized by states. He presented the case of Brazil and its ambiguity towards Latin America, a region whose existence as such is, according to Dr. Spektor, questionable. Dr. Finney presented some considerations on the importance of symbolic politics and collective memory in international history. Memory, as a category useful for the social sciences and humanities, has been incorporated into International Relations in the works of Neustadt and May on the uses of history for decisions makers and on constructivist and post-structuralist approaches. These authors consider that in international conflicts there are disputes over not only material resources, but over symbolic resources as memory. On his presentation on ‘Nuclear and non-nuclear powers, Dr. Spektor provided some insights into how Brazil as the only BRICS state not having a nuclear weapons program and a vocal supporter of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has a distinctive position in the international system.
Finally, the section of ‘Indigenous concepts’ included the presentations of Dr. Daniel Pinéu from the University of Aberystwyth on ‘Concepts of Pakistan’s Politics’, of Dr. Raquel Vaz Pinto from the Autonomous University of Lisbon on ‘Concepts of China’s Politics’ and of Dr. Patricia Daenhardt from the ‘Nova University of Lisbon’ on ‘Concepts of Germany’s Politics’. Dr. Pinéu presented ‘Partition’ ‘Center-Periphery’, ‘Fauji’ (kinship networks), and Sifarish (nepotism) as main concepts of the politics of Pakistan. Dr. Vaz Pinto presented concepts such as ‘Peaceful Rise’ and ‘Return of the Middle Kingdom’ as fundamental to understand the contemporary role of China in the global order. The presentation of Dr. Daenhardt included ‘historical memory’, ‘the west’, ‘Embedded multilateralism’, ‘normative power’, ‘Reluctance in the use of military force’ and ‘Compensation’ as central keys in German politics.
All in all, the PRIMO workshop in Lisbon provided its participants with challenging and innovating concepts that casted light into the current state of the international order.