Theory Seminar: From parts to wholes: Representants and international orders
Alena Drieschova will discuss her new article on international order that focuses on representatives.
The Theory Seminar will be based on the following text:
“The article introduces a new explanation of international order that focuses on representants. Representants are practices, artefacts and language that represent the units of the international system. They are crucial for international relations, given that international relations deal with an abstract macro-realm that can never be fully present, but needs to be represented and made concrete in specific localities.
An entirely faithful representation of an object is never possible. There is always a certain gap between a representation and what is being represented. In that gap lies the independent role of representants. Representants have four interrelated effects: 1) They define the units of the international system; 2) They legitimize them; 3) They provide them with differential degrees of power; 4) They serve as tools for governing.
When existing representants are seriously challenged, orders are in crisis; when new representants emerge, a new order has taken hold. The paper develops a mechanism of change emerging from struggles over representants. It studies the transition from the medieval order of universal monarchy to an order of divine right absolutism. Specific representants, such as gothic cathedrals, the mass, and coronation rituals maintained the medieval hierarchical order with the pope/emperor at the apex. The Reformation provided the impetus for kings to challenge the medieval order and adapt existing representants, so that they would portray the independence of kings from the papacy/emperor, and simultaneously position kings above feudal lords.”
Alena Drieschova is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Cardiff University. She works on the role of material culture and technology in international relations, and on nationalism, ethnic conflict, and processes of nation-state formation. She employs ethnographic methods in her research. Her regional focus centres on Europe and South Asia. She is an Associate editor of the journal New Perspectives: Journal of Central and Eastern European Politics and International Relations.
The Theory Seminar will be moderated by Research Professor at NUPI, Ole Jacob Sending.