Best Article in the European Journal of International Relations 2021

The winners of the EISA´s Best Article in EJIR 2021 are:

Xymena Kurowska and Anatoly Reshetnikov for their article “Trickstery: pluralising stigma in international society”



The abstract of the Xymena Kurowska and Anatoly Reshetnikov's article:

International politics is often imagined via a binary opposition between the oppressor and the oppressed. Attention to entrenched hierarchies of power is essential in the study of international politics. However, taking this division too rigidly can obfuscate the very mechanisms of power that must be understood in order to grasp these hierarchies. We identify one such mechanism in the practice of trickstery, particularly as practiced in the context of Russia’s ambivalent and conflicted place in international society. Through the dynamics of trickstery, we show the workings of stigmatisation to be a plural phenomenon, giving rise to various normative challenges. The trickster is both conformist and deviant, hero and anti-hero – a “plural figure” both reflecting the rich cultural texture of international society and contesting its hierarchies. The trickster particularly unsettles the ideal liberal (global) public sphere through its simultaneous performance of emancipatory and anti-emancipatory logics. In this, trickstery produces normatively undecidable situations that exceed the analytical capacities of, for example, the strategic use of norms, norm contestation, and stigma management literatures. We find trickstery to be encapsulated in the contemporary international situation of Russia, while recognising that its practices are potentially available to other actors with similarly liminal status and cultural repertoires. We particularly analyse the trickster practice of ‘overidentification’ with norms, which apparently endorses but indirectly subverts the normative frameworks within which it is performed. Such overidentification is a form of satire, contemporaneously appropriated by state actors, which has indeterminate yet significant effects.



The committee comment on the Xymena Kurowska and Anatoly Reshetnikov's article:

"Xymena Kurowska and Anatoly Reshetnikov make an original and intriguing contribution by introducing the concept of the ‘trickster’ as a role and form of political action characterised by ‘non-decidable plurality’. Nicely incorporating yet going beyond the notion of the liminal and practices of stigma management, their article opens the door to a novel reading of a type of political performance that exerts power through humour, satire, and the theatrical. The committee was impressed by the authors’ ability to bring this phenomenon to light through a systematic conceptual engagement with ‘the trickster’ drawing on a larger set of interdisciplinary literatures, and through effectively illustrating its analytical value in empirical examples. A refreshing and important approach to make sense of Russia’s position and actions in the current world order, and with potentially significant implications for how we conceive of the (ir)rationality of political actors more widely."