How postcolonial is post-Western IR? Mimicry and mētis in the international politics of Russia and Central Asia
Review of International Studies
Cambridge University Press (CUP) for British International Studies Association
© British International Studies Association 2017
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by the publisher
Scholars in International Relations have called for the creation of a Post-Western IR that reflects the global and local contexts of the declining power and legitimacy of the West. Recognizing this discourse as indicative of the postcolonial condition, we deploy Homi Bhabha’s concept of mimicry and James C. Scott’s notion of mētis to assess whether international political dynamics of a hybrid kind are emerging. Based on interviews with Central Asian political, economic and cultural elites, we explore the emergence of a new global politics of a Post-Western type. We find that Russia substantively mimics the West as a post-Western power and that there are some suggestive examples of the role of mētis in its foreign policy. Among Central Asian states, the picture is more equivocal. Formal mimicry and mētis of a basic kind are observable, but these nascent forms suggest that the dialectical struggle between colonial clientelism and anti-colonial nationalism remains in its early stages. In this context, a post-Western international politics is emerging with a postcolonial aspect but without the emergence of the substantive mimicry and hybrid spaces characteristic of established postcolonial relations.
This paper was produced thanks to the time afforded under the ESRC research project Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia’ (ES/J013056/1).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from CUP via the DOI in this record.
Published online 25 October 2017