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Borders, Bullets & Business in Southeast Asia
Moving Beyond the Crisis
Edited by Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell
From their establishment in the nineteenth century, international (intergovernmental) organizations (IOs) have been intimately linked to both international and domestic aspects of state making. This chapter examines non-European IO membership in the nineteenth century and argues that joining an IO could strengthen a state’s claim to statehood in two ways. First, IOs provided an arena of international politics where non-European states could participate on the basis of formal sovereign equality with the European great powers. Second, joining IOs and implementing their agreements on postal services, telegraphs, intellectual property, and other new technologies and government services, further offered a way for non-European states to prove that they were doing what ‘modern’ states were supposed to do. IO membership thus offered the possibility for non-European states both to gain international recognition as sovereign equals, and a means for them to display their progress in extending their domestic jurisdiction within their territories. The chapter problematizes the Westphalian unilinear view of state making, as well as the English school expansion thesis, by examining the agency of non-European entities and how their decisions to join IOs both strengthened individual states’ claims to statehood, and contributed to changes in international society.
Jens Bartelson and Jan Teorell
In this concluding chapter, we first provide a thematic summary of the contributions to this volume from the perspective of their temporal and geographical de-centering. We then explore in more depth how they address three key challenges in the literature on state making: how to (1) conceptualize the state; (2) theorize state making; and (3) how to bridge comparative and international perspectives. We conclude by sketching the contours of a new emerging agenda for research on states and their making. In brief, we argue for the need to conceptualize the state as both a materialist and ideational variable; not only to theorize war-centric but also other drivers of state making; and for taking a historical perspective.
If traditional accounts of the origins of the state and state system have put a European path to state formation and international society at their center, accounts that de-center state making from ‘Westphalia’ and ‘Europe’ rewrite global pasts and presents. However, as this contribution argues, the de-centering move is paradoxically enabled by an ontological recentering of the state and the state system. While explorations of contingencies and varieties in historical state formation tend to presuppose the international state system, investigations of the spread of international society and the acquisition of sovereign status tend to presuppose individual states. By thus holding on to the forms of the state and the state system, but to some extent liberating them from the Weberian straitjacket and entrenched Eurocentric hierarchies, the de- and recentering opens up a critical space between the narrow state-centric constraints of traditional approaches and attempts to escape the state tout court.
During the long nineteenth century, international relations were conducted between entities of a variety of types, including those described, at the time, as ‘semi-sovereign’. Such polities, from Belgium and the Ionian Islands, to Egypt and the Indian ‘princely’ states, were found throughout the international society of the period, across a range of temporal, spatial and institutional settings. This chapter focuses on this important but often overlooked group of international actors, seeking to explain their characteristics and constitution, from a comparative and historical perspective. It argues that different semi-sovereigns manifested different combinations of four ‘social logics’: law, management, suzerainty and cultural differentiation. Drawing principally on ideas from ‘relational’ theory, the chapter demonstrates how the social relations at the heart of each logic were productive and constitutive of diverse semi-sovereign polities. These relations interacted with each other, with alternative ‘configurations’ of the logics representing pathways to various modes of semi-sovereignty.