How can emerging powers speak? On theorists, native informants and quasi-officials in International Relations discourse

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Emerging powers like China, India and Brazil are receiving growing attention as objects in International Relations (IR) discourse. Scholars from these emerging powers are rarely present as subjects in mainstream IR discourse, however. This paper interrogates the conditions for scholars in emerging powers to speak back to the mainstream discipline. It argues, first, that ‘theory speak’ is rare from scholars based in periphery countries perceived to be ‘emerging powers’. Despite increasing efforts to create a ‘home-grown’ theoretical discourse in China, India and Brazil, few articles in mainstream journals present novel theoretical frameworks or arguments framed as non-Western/Southern theory or even as a ‘Chinese school’ or ‘Brazilian concepts’. Second, scholars from emerging powers tend to speak as ‘native informants’ about their own country, not about general aspects of ‘the international’. Third, some scholars even speak as ‘quasi-officials’, that is, they speak for their country.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)637-653
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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