Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Post-Western World *

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Post-Western World *

Article excerpt

Post-Western World· (Stuenkel, Oliver. Post-Western World: how emerging powers are remaking global order. Malden: Polity Press, 2016)

The contemporary world order is under intense scrutiny from observers, specialists, and researchers of the subject. Since the 2000s, a period that witnessed the emergence of developing countries onto the international scene, we have been seeing a growing interest in the study of the relations between the traditional powers and rising powers, as well as their effects on the global system. Such an interest can be illustrated by the recent publishing of impactful work such as Kissinger (2014), Acharya (2014), Ikenberry (2014), and Allison (2017), among others. Despite the differences in theoretical conceptualizations and their diagnosis of the situation, they have in common a critical look at the underlying logics of the structure and functioning of the current global order. In addition, all of them consider - and disagree on - future prognostics about world politics.

In the field of International Relations, the objects of investigation that fit within the perspective of systemic analysis are generally studied through one of two main approaches: one that centers on researching the implications on the system of transformations and changes in the nature or composition of the world order (KUPCHAN et al., 2001; MEARSHEIMER, 2001; MODELSKI, 1987) with the other looking to identify and explain the main causes of these changes when they occur (GILPIN, 1981; IKENBERRY, 2014; TERHALLE, 2015)1. In this context, we can state, without a doubt, that 'Post-Western World' (2016), by Oliver Stuenkel, generates thought-provoking insights not only about the current configuration of the world order, but also about the traits that it could have in the future. As such, his book freely and coherently moves between these two approaches by offering the reader a significant amount of material to understand and problematize while exploring the dynamics present in a world that is currently in metamorphosis.

Stuenkel is currently Professor of International Relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation and has been dedicating himself to studying topics related to the contemporary international politics and foreign relations of Brazil. His intellectual production, which encompasses academic articles, newspaper and magazine editorials, and books, has studied, among other topics, the political formation and coordination of groups of countries such as IBSA (STUENKEL, 2014) and the BRICS (STUENKEL, 2015a), the challenges of Brazilian foreign policy (STUENKEL and TAYLOR, 2015b), and, most recently, the current and future contours of the post-Western world order (2016). I made the choice to review this last work because of the originality of the ideas it brings to light and its potential to engender significant changes in how we see and study today's world. This will be clear to us if we look at the central thesis proposed by the author: that the way in which a good part of analysts tend to treat the current world order is guided by a 'parochial Western-centric' vision, which generates profound limitations when it comes to understanding the historical role played by non-Western powers in constructing that order, such as underestimating that role in the present day and the near future.

It is under this premise that the work advances its reflections. Derived from this proposition, a message that echoes throughout the entire book is that the referential lens through which we observe and analyze the world order needs to be adjusted. The studies that discuss this topic, therefore, deduce from that parochial vision a focus that normatively divides the universalist and modern West from the particularist and traditional non-West. Up to now, non-Westerners, when evaluated through this 'civilizational bias' (HUNTINGTON, 1993), are perceived as relatively passive in international society, and rarely as legitimate constructors of rules and institutions of global governance. …

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