Culture and Order in World Politics

This persuasive collection of essays makes the case that constructing order in international relations is in large part a matter of managing cultural diversity. In recent centuries, building international or regional orders over sets of fluid, shifting cultures has entailed establishing various regimes, from imperial realms (such as the Chinese and Ottoman empires) to the more familiar liberal hegemony of the United States after World War II. Problems arise when these overarching orders favor some cultural identities over others, which can generate new cultural movements that aim to overthrow the order, from Uighur resistance to Han Chinese hegemony in Xinjiang to populist reactions to liberal internationalism in Western countries. The authors generally agree that a legitimate international order must tolerate cultural diversity, but they disagree over the extent to which the current international order—based on Western liberal norms—actually does so. This stimulating volume reveals an important tension in world politics today: even as the institutions that uphold the current one express respect for cultural difference, fractious cultural forces—including within the West—threaten to topple it.

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