Best Article in the European Journal of International Relations 2020

The winners of the EISA´s Best Article in EJIR 2020 are:

Deepak Nair for his article “Saving face in diplomacy: A political sociology of face-to-face interactions in ASEAN”



The abstract of the Deepak Nair´s article:

Face-saving is a ubiquitous yet under-theorized phenomenon in International Relations. Prevailing accounts refer to face-saving as a shorthand for status and reputation, as a “cultural” trait found outside Euro-American societies, and as a technique for defusing militarized inter-state crisis, without, however, an explanation of its source and repertoire. In this article, I argue that it is possible to recover face-saving from cultural essentialism, and that face-saving practices geared to avoid embarrassment are micro-level mechanisms that produce international institutions like diplomacy. Drawing on the work of sociologists Erving Goffman and Pierre Bourdieu, I propose a theory of face-saving that accounts for its source, effects, and variation. I evaluate this theory with a study of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a diplomacy that has long espoused a discourse of “saving face” couched in Asian cultural exceptionalism. I combine a political sociology of ASEAN’s ruling regimes with an ethnography of its diplomats based on 13 consecutive months of fieldwork in Jakarta, Indonesia, to substantiate this wider theoretical argument. I demonstrate that, first, ASEAN’s face-saving practices are rooted in the legacies of authoritarianism rather than essentialist “culture,” and, second, that face-saving practices enable performances of sovereign equality, diplomatic kinship, and conflict avoidance among ASEAN’s diplomats. This article grants a distinct conceptual space to face-saving in International Relations, contributes to international practice theory by situating practices in the context of state–society relations, and offers a novel interpretation of what the “ASEAN Way” of doing diplomacy looks like in practice.



The committee comment on the Deepak Nair´s article:

"Deepak Nair’s article makes an important contribution by offering an original analysis of the genesis and effect of practices of ‘face-saving’ in diplomatic interactions within ASEAN. Rejecting an essentialist and orientalist account, Nair persuasively presents a reading of face-saving as a social code originating in the conservative stance among ASEAN’s founding members. The committee was impressed by the reflexive, skilful and rigorous research grounded in social theory, extensive ethnographic fieldwork and an interpretivist method of immersion. Nair’s attention to historical context and his systematic and nuanced observation of practices in both formal and informal settings not only allows him to present a rich empirical picture and pervasive nature of this diplomatic habitus; it also directs attention to the power of this social code within a community of practice, providing impetus for new research."



Ida Danewid for her aticle "The fire this time: Grenfell, racial capitalism and the urbanisation of empire".



The abstract of the Ida Danewid´s article:

Over the last few years, an emergent body of International Relations scholarship has taken an interest in the rise of global cities and the challenges they bring to existing geographies of power. In this article, I argue that a focus on race and empire should be central to this literature. Using the Grenfell Tower fire in London as a starting point, the article shows that global cities are part of a historical and ongoing imperial terrain. From London to New York, São Paulo to Cape Town, Singapore to Cairo, the ‘making’ of global cities has typically gone hand in hand with racialized forms of displacement, dispossession and police violence. Drawing on the literature on racial capitalism, as well as Aimé Césaire’s image of the ‘boomerang’, I show that these strategies build on practices of urban planning, slum administration and law-and-order policing long experimented with in the (post)colonies. By examining the colonial dimensions of what many assume to be a strictly national problem for the welfare state, the article thus reveals global cities as part of a much wider cartography of imperial and racial violence. This not only calls into question the presentism of scholarship that highlights the ‘newness’ of neoliberal urbanism. In demonstrating how global cities and colonial borderlands are bound together through racial capitalism, it also exposes the positionality of scholars and policymakers that seek to counter the violence of neoliberalism with a nostalgic return to the post-1945 welfare state. As the Grenfell fire revealed, the global city is less a new type of international actor or governance structure than an extension and reconfiguration of the domestic space of empire.




The committee comment on the Ida Danewid´s article:

"Ida Danewid’s article makes a powerful intervention into the debate on cities in the global political economy. The study of global cities has been on the rise in IR. Danewid argues that this literature has largely neglected questions of race and racism. By connecting urban studies and IPE with post/decolonial, black and indigenous studies, the article shows how global cities as part of a much wider cartography of imperial and racial violence. Understanding the violence of neoliberal urbanism requires us to acknowledge the role of race and racism within capitalism and its historical embeddedness. The article makes an important contribution to the fields of political economy, urban studies and international relations. It is an outstanding and sophisticated example of theoretical pluralism and integration that significantly broadens the perspective on structural violence in IR."