De-Centering State Making
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De-Centering State Making

Comparative and International Perspectives

Edited by Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell

Bridging the gap between international relations and comparative politics, this book transposes Eurocentric theories and narratives of state-making to new historical and geographical contexts in order to probe their scope conditions. In doing this, the authors question received explanations of the historical origins and geographical limits of state-making, questioning the unilinear view of the emergence of the modern state and the international system. Theoretically and methodologically eclectic, the volume explores a range of empirical cases not often discussed in the literature.
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Chapter 10: Concentric circles: aporias of de-centering state making in time and space

Janis Grzybowski


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.

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