Mar 10

CfP: Workshop on Rising Powers and State Transformation (London, November 2017)

Papers on Central Asia are encouraged. Funding is provided for successful applicants.

—John Heathershaw

The impact of “rising powers”, mostly from the global south, on the post-war, US-dominated, liberal world order is perhaps the most widely debated issue in contemporary International Relations. For many commentators, states like China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa will disrupt this order as they become more powerful because, unlike Western states, they are fundamentally “Westphalian”. Concerned above all with sovereignty, they lack the desire to pool competencies and devise transnational governance arrangements – the hallmark of the threatened liberal order.

However, new theoretical perspectives on these rising powers are now emerging, backed by growing empirical evidence. Scholars are now drawing attention to the emergence of “post-Westphalian” statehood beyond the developed West — including in today’s rising powers. Evidence shows that rising-power states have also been transformed over the last few decades, becoming more:

  • fragmented, as formerly powerful central agencies disperse power and resources to multiple agencies — public and private — and retreat to a “regulatory state” model;
  • decentralised, as control over policy and resources is devolved to regions, provinces and urban centres; and
  • internationalised, as different state apparatuses join, form or promote different, rescaled forms of transnational governance and regulation.

This state transformation has been shown to fundamentally condition the foreign and security policies of China, the most significant rising power (Hameiri and Jones, 2016). But these trends are also visible elsewhere, albeit with considerable variation:

  • In Russia, decentralisation under Yeltsin fostered a boom of “paradiplomacy” by regional governments, before recentralisation reversed this process (Tkachenko, 2002; Sharafutdinova, 2003), though the Ukraine crisis can also be seen as a clash between Russian and EU transnational regulatory projects (Langbein, 2015);
  • In India, paradiplomacy by local governments is also observable, though curiously it seems less prominent than in China, despite India’s formally federal, democratic constitution (Jenkins, 2003a, 2003b; Sridharan, 2003; Dossani and Vijaykumar, 2006; Plagemann and Destradi, 2015);
  • In South Africa, some scholars also observe a growing international role for provinces (van Wyk, 1997; Geldenhuys, 1998; Cornelissen, 2006; Nganje, 2014a, 2014b) — a trend also seen in Nigeria (Akindele, 2003) and Brazil (Setzer, 2014).

This workshop is the first event devoted to taking stock of these developments in comparative perspective. We invite scholars working on any “rising power” to review the empirical and theoretical claims of Hameiri and Jones (2016) and explore the extent to which similar trends are occurring — or not — in their area of expertise. Papers should engage with at least one of the main trends identified — the fragmentation, decentralisation and internationalisation of state apparatuses — and explore and explain the extent to which these trends are affecting a rising power’s foreign and security policy (broadly conceived).


  • The workshop will be held in/ around November 2017 at Queen Mary, University of London.
  • The organisers are: Lee Jones (QMUL), John Heathershaw (University of Exeter) and Shahar Hameiri (University of Queensland).
  • Some funding is available to support presenters travelling from overseas; priority will be given to scholars based in the global south.
  • Please submit abstracts of no more than 400 words to Lee Jones ( by 31 March 2017. Decisions on accepted papers will be communicated by 30 April. Papers will be circulated at least two weeks prior to the workshop.
  • Depending on the level of interest and quality we may seek to develop the workshop papers into a special issue of a reputable journal. We also hope to form a network of scholars interested in this area.
  • Please address any questions to Lee Jones (


  • Akindele, R. (2003) ‘Foreign Policy in Federal Polities: A Case Study of Nigeria’, in A.T. Gana and S.G. Egwu (eds.) Federalism in Africa: The Imperative of Democratic Development, Trenton: Africa World Press, pp. 91–106.
  • Cornelissen, S. (2006) ‘”Entrepreneurial Regions”? The Foreign Relations of South African Cities and Provinces’, in W. Carlsnaes and P. Nel (eds.) In Full Flight: South African Foreign Policy after Apartheid, Midrand: Institute for Global Dialogue, pp. 125–136.
  • Dossani, R. and Vijaykumar, S. (2006) ‘Indian Federalism and the Conduct of Foreign Policy in Border States: State Participation and Central Accommodation Since 1990’, Stanford Journal of International Relations 7(1).
  • Geldenhuys, D. (1998) ‘The Foreign Relations of South Africa’s Provinces’, SAIIA Reports No. 121998, South African Institute of International Affairs.
  • Hameiri, S. and Jones, L. (2016) ‘Rising Powers and State Transformation: The Case of China’, European Journal of International Relations 22(1): 72–98.
  • Jenkins, R. (2003a) ‘India’s States and the Making of Foreign Economic Policy: The Limits of the Constituent Diplomacy Paradigm’, Publius: The Journal of Federalism 33(4): 63–82.
  • Jenkins, R. (2003b) ‘How Federalism Influences India’s Domestic Politics of WTO Engagement (And Is Itself Affected in the Process)’, Asian Survey 43(4): 598–621.
  • Langbein, J. (2015) Transnationalization and Regulatory Change in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood: Ukraine between Brussels and Moscow, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Nganje, F. (2014a) ‘The Developmental Paradiplomacy of South African Provinces: Context, Scope and the Challenge of Coordination’, Hague Journal of Diplomacy 9(2): 119–149.
  • Nganje, F. (2014b) ‘Paradiplomacy and the Democratisation of Foreign Policy in South Africa’, South African Journal of International Affairs 21(1): 89–107.
  • Plagemann, J. and Destradi, S. (2015) ‘Soft Sovereignty, Rising Powers, and Subnational Foreign Policy-Making: The Case of India’, Globalizations 12(5): 728–743.
  • Setzer, J. (2014) ‘How Subnational Governments are Rescaling Environmental Governance: The Case of the Brazilian State of São Paulo’, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning (DOI:10.1080/1523908X.2014.984669).
  • Sharafutdinova, G. (2003) ‘Paradiplomacy in the Russian Regions: Tatarstan’s Search for Statehood’, Europe-Asia Studies 55(4): 613–629.
  • Sridharan, K. (2003) ‘Federalism and Foreign Relations: The Nascent Role of the Indian States’, Asian Studies Review 27(4): 463–489.
  • Tkachenko, S.L. (2002) ‘Regionalization of Russian Foreign and Security Policy: The Case of St Petersburg’, Working Paper No. 21, Zurich: Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research.
  • van Wyk, J.-A. (1997) ‘The External Relations of Selected South African Subnational Governments: A Preliminary Assessment’, South African Journal of International Affairs 5(2): 21–59.