Vol 20, No 2 (2020): Contemporary Area Studies: Overcoming Level-of-Analysis Eclecticism

THEMATIC DOSSIER
Regionalism in Global Era: Overview of Foreign and Russian Approaches
Lagutina M.L., Mikhaylenko E.B.
Abstract

This article is devoted to a review of the formation of the theoretical foundations of the modern generation of regionalism. In the article, the authors tried to provide an overview of the publications of foreign and Russian researchers on modern theories of regionalism, examined the evolution of theoretical approaches to the study of regionalism, and also tried to identify the main trends and niches in the development of regional studies abroad and in Russia. The current practice of regional development requires the development of new theoretical and methodological approaches to their study. There is a wide variety of different integration forms in modern world. There is an overlapping membership of a large number of states in various regional structures, and a supplement of formal interstate interactions at the regional level with expanding stable informal and “private” ties. Besides the formation of regional cooperation in various fields take place, and, finally, the intensification of direct relations between interstate unions of different regions and the creation of transcontinental blocks of cooperation. All of the above is a complex “multi-level structure” that is gradually developed in the evolution process of regionalism. The purpose of this article is to determine the theoretical foundations of the modern generation of regionalism, its problem field and the difficulties in its study. As a result, the authors came to the conclusion that modern regionalism is a multidimensional, eclectic approach to the study of various forms of regional ties, taking into account not only regional but also global contexts, the formation of the theoretical and conceptual foundations of which has not yet been completed.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):261-278
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Comparative Area Studies and the Study of the Global South
Sil R., Ahram A.I.
Abstract
Comparative Area Studies (CAS) offers a template to bring the Global South back into the foreground of social science inquiry. CAS urges researchers to grapple directly with empirical variations derived from across the seemingly different global regions. CAS offers three comparative modes: intra-regional, cross-regional, and trans-regional. A number of scholars have used CAS’s comparative rubrics, even without knowing about the wider CAS agenda and program. CAS unsettles assumptions about discrete, fixed “regional” or civilizational blocks as well as about nomothetic theory-building aimed at universal or general laws. At the same time, CAS engages in the idea of medium-range theory-building, focusing empirical rigor and induction in order to create concepts and analyses that are portable yet contextualized. These macro-historical theories must be attentive to spatial and temporal variation in the social world. Claims of universalism are suspect. For the study of the Global South, in particular, CAS provides a path for aggregating and leveraging the wide range of observations and interpretations area specialists have to offer on regions as diverse as South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. CAS thus changes the division of labor within social science to allow greater input for scholarship derived from and originating in the developing world.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):279-287
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Comparative Area Studies: Epistemological and Methodological Foundations and a Practical Application
Berg-Schlosser D.
Abstract
In recent decades, area studies have been transformed from mostly descriptive ethnographic and historical accounts to theory-oriented and analytical approaches. They retain some of their depth and cultural specificity, but have been widened in a comparative sense to come up with some broader social scientific explanations. This has been enhanced by more recent systematic comparative methods such as “Qualitative Comparative Analysis” (QCA) and related procedures, which are particularly suitable for medium-N studies of specific regions at the macro-level and cross-area analyses in contrast to more common statistical approaches. This paper discusses the epistemological background of this approach as well as recent methodological developments. As an illustration, it provides an example of an ongoing large international “cross-area” research project concerned with successful democratic transformations in different world regions and more recent threats to democratic stability and some of their underlying causes. Here, in particular, the relationships between level of socio-economic development and liberal democracy (the “Lipset hypothesis”) and the effects of “good governance” in terms of the World Bank indicators on democratic stability are investigated. This is done on the basis of selected “cross-area” cases with the help of both crisp-set and fuzzy-set QCA. In this way, both the utility of this approach for “medium-range theorizing” in the social sciences and possible practical-political applications are demonstrated.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):288-302
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Regionalism in the Modern World Economy: Evolution and Main Trends
Kostyunina G.M.
Abstract

The proposed article is aimed at identifying the essence, history of development and evaluation of the current stage of regionalism. The principles of the theory of economic integration are briefly outlined, including its forms and their practical implementation. The author discusses the regulation of integration agreements within the framework of the GATT - WTO multilateral trade system. The motives for the participation of states in integration agreements, such as strategic, political and economic ones, as well as participation of the country in global and / or regional value of chains, are examined in detail. The author characterizes the main trends of modern regionalism and well-known integration mega-projects, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The main results of the study, which the author came to: 1) regionalism is a politics, and regionalization is the process of uniting countries into a larger region with elements of the free movement of certain factors; 2) old regionalism reflected the goals of promoting the growth of international trade and ensuring security. It corresponds to the concept of “shadow” integration; 3) the new regionalism was the result of an integrated approach to the development of globalization and a multipolar world. It is characterized by the concept of “deep” integration with deeper integration processes; 4) when signing the RTAs, the country takes into account strategic, political and economic factors; 5) integration agreements vary in scope and structure, reflecting the growing differentiation of the global trading system and the diversity of bilateral and multilateral regional trade agreements; 6) the signing of mega-projects reduces the effect of “spaghetti bowl” due to a decrease in the number of bilateral integration agreements between countries and the development of general rules of trade, and also simplifies international commercial disputes; there is a gradual unification of not only the rules of law, but also their interpretation and application.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):303-317
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International Relations in the Great Indian Ocean through the Prism of Geopolitics and Geostrategy
Lebedeva N.B.
Abstract

The article is devoted to an analysis of some concepts and geopolitical approaches towards the international relations in the Indian Ocean, later the Great Indian Ocean (GIO). It is the conceptual approaches that have given and give the opportunity to understand the system and structure of the IO region and to analyze the evolution, trends and practices in this system. In recent decades, the region has evolved from the mosaic of countries and the randomness of interstate relations in the first postcolonial years to a qualitatively different than before, expanded and central role in world politics and geostrategy due to new factors of the 21st century, many of which were somehow reflected in theoretical ideas of international relations (IO), proposed by Indian scholars. The article analyzes the correlation of approaches of Indian authors with Western approaches, reveals the features of Indian approaches in the context of the characteristics of the IR system of the Indian Ocean region, and identifies similarities with approaches of specialists from other Asian countries. The evolution of the concepts of Indian scientists has gone through three stages in its development. The first one is a postcolonial period till 1991, the end of bipolarity. The second is characterized by forming of the IO system under conditions of littoral states entrance in the IO scene and China intrusion in the Indian Ocean region. The essence of the third period is in transformation of the GIO IR system in force of the concept of uniting with the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) and forming Indo-Pacific megaregion.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):318-332
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Regional Economic Integration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC): Analysing the Dynamics and Performance
Muntschick J.
Abstract
This article analyses the dynamics and performance of regional economic integration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It proposes an innovative theoretical approach to the analysis of regionalism that refers to cooperation theory and takes the impact of external actors explicitly into account. The motivation for this research stems from the observation of a new wave of regionalism in the Global South. Many of these new or reformed regional integration organisations (RIOs) comprise of developing countries, particularly in Africa. In contrast to expectations of most mainstream integration theories, new regionalisms in the Southern Hemisphere have come into existence and show considerable degrees of dynamics and institutional performance. However, there is evidence that regionalisms in the Global South are less stable than in the North and not always entirely under control of regional actors only. This puzzling observation, of which the SADC gives an example, has motivated research for this article. Its central aim is to explain the recent integration dynamics and performance of the organisation in its key policy area, namely the economy. By applying a situation-structural approach to analyse and explain the development of institutionalised regional integration, the author argues that patterns of strong and asymmetric interdependence between regional and extra-regional actors may have an ambivalent impact on the genuine structure of regional cooperation problems, institution-building and institutional performance. The article illustrates and explains this on the example of SADC’s key economic integration projects: the SADC Free Trade Area and the scheduled SADC Customs Union.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):333-346
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Visegrad Group and Relations with Russia
Višňovský R.
Abstract
This article refers to the Central European countries by meaning the Visegrad Group countries (V4) - Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. The development of the Visegrad Group aimed on integration to the Euro-Atlantic structures fulfilled its promise, nevertheless, the membership in Western structures does not necessarily mean the loss of Russian influence in the region of Central Europe. On the contrary, the region’s connection to Russia developed in the past remained to some extent even after the process of political transition in particular countries. Such connections are responsible for foreign policy discourse with a plethora of questions and misunderstandings on issues related to the political attitudes of Visegrad members towards Russia and some contradictory stances of the V4 countries among themselves as well with respect to Brussels. The EU’s politics of sanctions towards Russia is having a direct, counterproductive effect in Visegrad, what is resulting in undermined relations and weakened coherence inside the EU with the emergence of anti-Western and pro-Russian political parties that creates the space for Russian foreign policy to achieve more influence in the region. This article is analyzing the background of such discourse and some of the reasons behind the pro-Russian sentiment or discrepancies and non-coherence of the EU members’ opinions on Russia. At the same time, the awareness of the outcomes of this article can be relevant in analyzing the possibilities to avoid the deepening of the conflictual foreign policy between the EU and Russia, or the Visegrad and Russia, respectively. The research is built on both, primary and secondary sources, related mainly to the evolution of relations in specific areas between both sides. The mentioned historical perspective creates the basis of the analysis and is further put into contemporary discourse to find the answers on the question: what are the reasons for non-coherence of the EU and Visegrad towards the policy against Russia? To achieve the above-mentioned results, the analysis is provided in chronological perspective using the mixed methods by exploring the official documents, scholarly articles published on the topic, and public polls as well.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):347-355
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SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL
World Regional Studies as a Research Approach and Scientific School. Interview with Alexei D. Voskressenski, Professor, MGIMO University
- -.
Abstract
Professor Alexei D. Voskressenski is a leading Russian expert in Asian Studies, IR and Politics, a famous sinologist and founder of scientific school of World Regional Studies. Alexei D. Voskressenski graduated from MSU Institute of Asian and African Studies in 1982, in the following years continued his education at Singapore National University (1983), Fudan University (1986), Beijing Linguistic University (1987). He worked as a guest researcher in France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Japan and the USA, defended his PhD and senior doctorate at the RAS Institute of Far Eastern Studies (1989, 1998) and the PhD thesis at the University of Manchester (1997). As the head of the Department of Asian and African Studies at MGIMO University (1999-2007) and the dean of the MGIMO College of Political Affairs and World Politics (2008-2017), he actively participated in the creation and conceptualization of educational programs in Regional Studies, Comparative Political Science, foreign policy analyses, history and contemporary issues of the Asia-Pacific region. Professor Voskressenski is the author of more than 500 academic works, including books published by Palgrave Macmillan, Rowman & Littlefield / Lexington Books, Cambridge University Press, etc. Professor Voskressenski is a member of the editorial boards of academic peer-reviewed journals: «Problems of the Far East», «Values and Meanings», «RSUH Bulletin», «International Trends», «Transbaikal State University Journal» and our journal (Vestnik RUDN), and some international journals «俄罗斯 学 刊» (Russian Studies), «International Journal of Russian Studies». In the interview, Alexei D. Voskressenski speaks about the history of formation and advantages of the World Regional Studies as a research platform, other approaches in Social Sciences, compares approaches of the leading Russian academic schools of Regional Studies and analyzes the positive and negative aspects of the Western, Non-Western and national academic schools. The interview contains a theoretical analysis and understanding of the conceptual content of scientific knowledge in the field of international relations theory, humanities and social sciences in general.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):356-366
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PEACE AND SECURITY
African International Relations, Genocidal Histories and the Emancipatory Project. Part 2
Campbell H.G.
Abstract

Silences in the discipline of International Relations on genocide amount to a form of genocide denial, which is one of the foundations of future genocide. The paper posits that in the era of militarized global apartheid, progressive scholars are challenged to critique and expose the past and current crimes against humanity that are occurring in Africa. Drawing from the consolidation of an alternative analysis in the context of the Bandung Project, the paper analyzed the contributions of the ideas that emerged out of the anti-apartheid struggles and the struggles for reparative justice. Struggles from the Global South had culminated in the World Conference against Racism (WCAR) process, elevating the anti-racist battles as a core challenge of Africa’s International Relations. This rejuvenation and energies coming out of the protracted struggle for bread, peace and justice took the form of the transition to the African Union leaving behind the concept of the noninterference in the internal affairs of states. The paper analyzed the ways in which afro-pessimism was being reinforced by the constructivist path in African International Relations. The contributions of radical African feminists are presented as one new direction where there is the coalescence of the progressive anti-imperialist intellectual traditions with radical feminisms. These two traditions open possibilities for an emancipatory project. This project has taken on extra importance in the period of the fragility of global capital when the precariousness of capitalism threatens new and endless wars and destabilization in Africa. Modern humanitarianism forms one component of the weaponization of everything and it is within this ensemble of ideas that scholars need to deconstruct the discussion of ‘failed states’ in Africa.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):367-381
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Information Policy and Information Security of PRC: Development, Approaches and Implementation
Ponka T.I., Ramich M.S., Wu Y.
Abstract

The subject of the study is the new course of the PRC information policy, which was launched by the “Fifth generation” of the PRC leaders after the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012. As a result, after the 18th Congress of the CPC was started the implementation of the “Strong cyberpower” strategy, which implies not only ensuring cyber security in the country, but also the usage of network resources to develop the national economy. China’s new information policy was caused by the sharply increased role of information and communication technologies in international processes and the shift in the focus of international relations to the Asia-Pacific region. The PRC’s information policy is based on the most advanced technologies in the IT sphere and the cooperation with private companies on regulating external and internal information security. The relevance of the research topic is due to the increasing role of ICT in international processes. In this context, the most important are the positions of the leading countries of the world to regulate this area, as well as the mechanisms and tools used by them. The People’s Republic of China is one of the leaders in the field of scientific and technical developments and actively uses its achievements to accomplish tasks in the field of domestic and foreign policy. In this regard, the purpose of the study is to analyze and compare the development strategies of the PRC information policy and the resources that are necessary for their implementation. The unique network landscape, which was formed under the influence of government policy on control over published content and the sharing of digital services market among the three largest information corporations (Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba), has become an essential part of the country’s information security system and requires detailed study. The purpose of the article is to identify the evolution of China’s information policy development strategy and resources for its implementation. This article also discusses the threats to the information security of the People’s Republic of China and analyzes the approaches to ensuring it. The results of the study are the conclusions that show the role and place of information policy in the PRC foreign policy, the structure of the information security system and strategic approaches to the regulation of international relations in cyberspace.

Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):382-394
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INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS
China’s Influence in Latin America in the Brazilian Case (2002-2018)
Pennaforte C., Bones N.K.
Abstract
In this paper the authors aim to establish the reasons that led the Chinese state to view Latin America as an important partner between 2002 and 2018 and try to analyse the development of Chinese presence in Latin America and its possible impacts and perspectives in the 21st century in Brazil. For that, both political and economic relations between China and Latin America’s countries, especially the relations between China and Brazil, and their development are examined by using a comparative and historical approach. This paper is divided in three sections. The first part characterizes the emergence of Asia as a prominent actor within the current world system and China’s participation as a major economic competitor from the 1980s. In the second section, the Chinese interest in Latin America and its importance is analysed. Finally, the influence of China in Brazil is exposed in the last section. In the conclusion, undoubtedly, the Asian country has a huge influence in areas where it conquers, especially in Latin America and Brazil, leading mainly investments and its products of both high technology and low cost. In the short term, countries that receive this type of investment see an increase in production and, consequently, an economic improvement due to the increase in the market and the consumption process. On the other hand, Latin American companies and industries do not have the technological capacity or, to a certain extent, a competitive advantage to compete with Chinese products in the long term, due to the stricter labour laws in American countries, compared to the Asian country. Hence, one of Brazil’s possible strategies for meeting the challenges of expanding relations with China is to invest in greater complementarity and structural integration of the region through MERCOSUR.
Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):395-407
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REVIEWS
Ahram, A.I., Köllner, P. & Sil, R. (Eds.). (2018). Comparative Area Studies: Methodological Rationales and Cross-Regional Applications.Oxford University Press, 321 p
Agazade M.M.
Abstract

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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):408-410
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Mosyakov, D.V. (2019). Global Transformation of Pacific Asia and Russia. Moscow: Belyi veter publ., 390 p. (In Russian)
Shpakovskaya M.A.
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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):411-413
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Lebedeva, N.B. (2018). Indian Ocean: Challenges of the 21st Century and India. Moscow: IV RAN publ., 576 p. (In Russian)
Dkhar A.P.
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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):414-416
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Muntschick, J. (2018). The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU). Regionalism and External Influence. Palgrave Macmillan, 186 p
Arkhangelskaya A.A.
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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):417-420
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Cusack, A.K. (2019). Venezuela, ALBA, and the Limits of Postneoliberal Regionalism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Palgrave Macmillan, 218 p
Boreyko A.V.
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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):421-424
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Gromyko, Al.A. & Fedorov, V.P. (Eds.). (2019). Europe between Three Oceans. Moscow: IE RAN: Nestor-Istoriya publ., 608 p. (In Russian)
Ivkina N.V.
Abstract

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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):425-427
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Stefanova, B.M. (2018). The European Union and Europe’s New Regionalism. The Challenge of Enlargement, Neighborhood, and Globalization. Palgrave Macmillan, 225 p
Bugrov R.V.
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Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. 2020;20(2):428-431
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