Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Africa/Asia/ Latin America Tricontinental Scholarly Collaborative Programme

Jakarta, Indonesia
22-24 October 2008


Hegemony, Counter-Hegemony and Alternative Hegemony: Implications for the South


The Asian Political and International Studies Association (APISA), the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invite abstracts and paper proposals for the international comparative research workshop which they are jointly convening within the framework of their Africa/Asia/ Latin America Tricontinental Scholarly
Collaborative Programme. The theme of the workshop is: Hegemony, Counter-Hegemony and Alternative Hegemony: Implications for the South.

The workshop will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 22-24 October
2008. It will bring together 30 scholars from across Africa, Asia, and Latin America on the basis of 10 per region. The workshop is designed as a high-level research forum where perspectives from the global South on hegemony in the world system will be debated.

Application Procedure

Researchers from Africa, Asia and Latin America interested in participating in the workshop should submit an abstract or paper proposal based on the Concept Note below, and a curriculum vitae to the respective continental organizations, namely, CODESRIA, APISA and CLACSO. The full contact details for these organisations are reproduced below for the attention of all prospective applicants. The deadline for the receipt of applications is 20 September 2008. An independent Selection Committee will screen all applications.


Strategic Studies and International Relations Programme
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, MALAYSIA
Tel: 603- 89213647; Fax: 603-89213332
E-Mail: secretariat@ apisanet. com; apisasecretariat@
Website: www.apisanet. com


Callao 875, 3º (1023) Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
Tel: (54 11) 4811-6588 / 4814-2301; Fax: (54 11) 4812-845
E-mail: programa_sur- sur@campus. ar


BP 3304, CP 18524, Dakar, SENEGAL
Tel: (221) 825 9822: Fax: (221) 824 1289
E-mail: south.seminar@ codesria. sn
Website: www.codesria. org

Concept Note:


The first phase of the Africa-Asia- Latin America Scholarly Collaborative Programme (2004-2007) explored the challenges faced by the countries of the South in the context of a highly unequal international distribution of resources that has been accentuated over the last quarter of a century, and the erosion of sovereignty provoked by the exercise of a new international hegemony. The new hegemony has been in evidence since the demise of the spirited effort made during the course of the 20th century to construct a communist alternative to global capitalism; it has been reinforced by the neo-liberal moorings of contemporary globalisation. Out of the new hegemony has emerged a narrow, vertical structure in international life, a structure which speaks, in part, to growing inequalities amongst states. In seeking to explore the implications of the new hegemony for the countries of the South, participants in the first phase of the collaborative programme were invited to focus their attention on the role of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation, in imposing orthodox
economic and political policies on the supposedly sovereign states of the South. The work undertaken in this regard was combined with an exploration of the knowledge-power juncture in terms of the way in which it reinforced hegemony by equating historical success and progress to Western concepts of free market economics and liberal individualism. Within this nexus, poor, heavily-indebted countries have had little chance of resisting the policy "recommendations" of the IFIs, and not only is their sovereignty infringed, but so too is the legitimacy of their governments undermined in the process. Studies were produced by participants in the first phase of work undertaken which focused on the impact of the Washington Consensus on economic growth, social justice, and poverty reduction; the domestic policy process and democratic governance; policy alternatives at the regional, national, and local levels and how scholars in the Third World have reflected on and theorized them; the role of current trade negotiations and their likely impact on the current world economy; the challenges of the establishment of a new, more democratic, global
order; and a preliminary assessment of counter-hegemonic quests and coalition-making processes among social movements among states.

Building on the initial work that was undertaken on the nature and consequences of the new hegemony in the international system, it is proposed over the period 2008-2010 to shift attention to a consideration not just of the ways in which hegemony is being exercised and with what consequences, but also the growing forces of counter-hegemony and the emerging trends towards alternative forms of hegemony. The research concerns arising from this shift of focus will be organised under three broad rubrics, namely, (a) hegemony; (b) counter-hegemony; and (c) alternative forms of hegemony. As a unifying and complimentary concern, it is also proposed to explore the role of the regions and the implications of resurgent regionalist impulses in the articulation and adaptation of hegemony, as well as resistance to it.

A) Hegemony

Although a growing body of literature is developing on the New
Hegemony, the concept itself remains a contested one. For this reason,
during the second phase of the South-South collaborative programme, it
is planned to create a wider scope to permit a comprehensive
examination of all forms of domination and exploitation that restrict
the sovereignty of the countries of the South and their legitimate
governance. This will, in turn, allow for a deeper interrogation of
on-going conceptual debates from a Southern perspective. In so doing,
attention will be paid to the economic and political pre-requisites
for the making of global, regional and local hegemons, as well as the
spatial dimensions for the exercise of hegemony. The interfaces among
local, regional, and global hegemonies will be examined as much for
the ways in which they compliment one another as for the tensions and
contradictions that they bear. The question of whether it is possible
to be a local or regional hegemon without exercising a globally
dominant role will also be examined. Similarly, the extent to which
regional hegemonism facilitates or hinders the exercise of global
hegemony will be examined. The challenges of the legitimacy of
leadership by hegemons will be explored.

The literature on regionalism in the age of globalisation is growing
as economists and political scientists grapple with the question of
whether regional integration arrangements are good or bad for the
multilateral system. Economists worry about the ability of the World
Trade Organisation to maintain the GATT's unsteady momentum toward
liberalism, while at the same time contemplating the emergence of
globally unified integration arrangements. Political scientists
concerned with universal legitimacy, hamstrung decision-making,
bureaucratic inertia and the overstretched resources of the United
Nations increasingly look to the region as a possible site where
actors may strive to resolve questions of international governance.
The collapse of the Cancun Ministerial Conference underscored the
difficulties inherent in multilateral agreements and caused many
countries to focus on regional trade agreements (RTAs) as the primary
means of opening up international trade. RTAs continue to proliferate
as progress on the Doha Round has slowed. Free trade blocs formed
through such agreements as the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) and deep integration schemes such as the European Union (EU)
have allowed countries to lower trade barriers among neighbours and
political allies, while retaining flexibility over which sectors to
liberalize and which issues to negotiate. Recently, there has been a
surge of RTAs: About 162 RTAs are in force as of 2002 with over half
of those coming into existence after 1995. The WTO estimates that over
300 would be in existence by 2007.

The question as to whether the emergence of regionalism moves us
towards a global identity or effectively balkanises the world into
distinct and competing geopolynomic pan-regions has tremendous
implications for both the theory of hegemony and the practice of
international relations. Economists are unable to provide a
definitive answer as to whether regionalism sets up forces that
encourage or discourage evolution toward globally freer trade.
Regionalism, by allowing stronger internalisation of the gains from
trade liberalisation, seems likely to facilitate freer trade when it
is initially highly restricted; but intra-regional economic forces can
lead to the generation of strong barriers to extra-regional trade (as
has happened in the case of the EU). Political scientists seem unable
to agree on whether a disinterested and overburdened UN, or a partial
but perhaps more dynamic regional body is the best forum for resolving
regional political problems, in both practical terms and with regard
to legitimacy. The stimulus for regional development can vary beyond
the question of stepping-stones towards globalisation, or bulwarks
against it. Hegemonic and regime considerations also come into play.
Neo-realists and geo-politicians place an emphasis on the role played
by the most powerful global actor in determining the pace, extent and
rules of the international game, while neo-liberals look to the role
of the global economic leader. Likewise, regional arrangements are
fashioned both in reaction and resistance to global leadership, and
also according to the interests and actions of regional hegemons and
leaders. While the theoretical foundations for this project will
include dependency and world systems theories; power-base
measurements, geopolitics and hegemonic cycles; and measurements of
polarity and power diffusion; it also leaves room for the integration
of Southern methodologies and theoretical frameworks in the study of
hegemony both at the global and regional levels.

B) Counter-Hegemony

Counter-hegemonic processes include elements that actively resist
hegemony, as well as the negative forces generated as a bye-product of
the functioning of hegemony. From this perspective, it is easy to see
that there is a fairly broad range of agents and ideologies that
aspire to or actually are counter-hegemonic. Elements that actively
resist hegemony include other global or regional powers (the actions
of which are best explained by classical balance-of-power theory
whereby actors combine to ensure that none of their number achieves an
omnipotent position); anti-hegemonic coalitions (such as the one
currently being forged by Venezuela and Iran); regional or
interest-based cooperatives; international and domestic bartering
systems; non-state-centric aid agencies focusing on the grass-roots
rather than national development projects and micro-credit rather than
international debt; regional trade agreements; debt defaulters,
nationalisers and intellectual property rights violators; anti-WTO
protesters; and anti- /alternative globalisation agitators.
Counter-hegemonic forces generated by the functioning of hegemony
itself include "terrorists" , drug cartels, international organised
crime, arms-dealers, and domestic pressure groups.

Clearly, the negative economic effects of globalisation on some
countries and on some groups within all countries can lead to support
for terrorism (refugee camps turned into recruiting grounds), the
international drug trade (the ultimate cash crop), organised crime
(when legitimate employment or social security nets are unavailable) ,
and an arms trade to equip these globalisation discontents. However,
hegemony also contributes to the generation of its own critics by
denying individuals and groups their intellectual and cultural space.
Through meta-narratives and meta-norms, the universalistic element of
hegemonic globalisation denies independent identity. The
"demystification" of societies as they modernise is also one element
of this process. As people lose their traditional touchstones, they
cast around for something to fill the void, often joining sects,
cults, activist organizations. Protest groups in East and West, North
and South, are also significantly boosted by this process.

Regionalism holds a particularly ambiguous position with regard to its
relationship to hegemony. Globalism indicates a qualitative deepening
of the internationalisatio n process, strengthening the functional and
weakening the territorial dimension of development. It has sometimes,
therefore, been described as the "end of geography." Globalism thus
implies the growth of a world market, increasingly penetrating and
dominating the "national" economies, which in the process are bound to
lose some of their "nation-ness. " This means dominance of the world
market over structures of local production, as well as the increasing
prevalence of Western-type consumerism. Likewise globalism promotes a
solidarist view of governance, whereby concepts such as democracy and
human rights appear to take on a "universal" normative value, despite
their current Western bent. However, from this, there may emerge a
political will to halt or reverse the process of globalisation, in
order to safeguard some degree of territorial control and cultural
diversity. One way of achieving such a change could be through

On the other hand, much of the logic of regionalism is based upon the
denial of national distinctiveness within a region, and a focus
instead upon shared values and a common heritage. The practical
implications of the world-view, or rather region-view, are that,
depending upon the depth of regional integration, many of the aspects
of public life traditionally seen as falling under the purview of
nation states, are taken over by the regional entity. These can range
- on the economic front - from tariffs and trade, through border
controls even up to and including taxation and currencies.
Politically, regional bodies can range from councils of ministers of
member states to fully-elected executives, and regional courts can
even serve as courts of appeal above the most senior national courts,
thereby truly undermining the concept of a national sovereign existing
above the law and whose word is law for the subjects of the land.

One of the key debates in this research agenda will focus on whether
regionalism, regional leadership and regional organisations function
as counter-hegemonic forces, or serve as Trojan horses for the
interests of the global hegemon.

C) Alternative Forms of Hegemony

The current international system, while produced by the apparent
victory of Western "liberal" states (and in particular the hegemonic
leader of this coalition) in the Cold War ideological clash, appears
to bear little resemblance to the early concepts of liberal
internationalism. The preponderance of a single state in military,
economic, political and soft power terms has led to a situation where
concepts such as independence, national self-determination and
sovereignty are subjected to challenges of various kinds. Indeed, the
possibility also exists of the international system being dominated by
a single state in the context of a world empire. There are, however,
several alternative models to the hegemonic world order that could
conceivably be pursued on the international stage. Rather than the
unipolar structure of hegemony, multipolarity could become the norm.
In fact, one school of thought contends that not only is multipolarity
the natural state of affairs for power distribution with bipolarity
(Cold War) and unipolarity (hegemony) merely transient aberrations,
but also that mulitpolarity is the most stable and desirable
distribution of power as it prevents the domination of all by a single
power, but is also less inherently confrontational than bipolarity.
Rather than neo-colonial interference from the core, the traditional
liberal values of non-interference and tolerance could again come to
the fore. Liberal writers and practitioners from Kant to Wilson
envisaged a system of world governance where sovereign independent
states would freely come together as equals jointly to reconcile
conflicting interests and to generate collective goods. "Forcing
people to be free" is no substitute for national self-determination of

Rather than the domination of a single hegemon, globalisation and the
process of international organization could lead to global governance
and the withering of the state in all its manifestations. Complex
interdependence and the penetration of all states as a result of
associated processes have left no state, not even the hegemon,
untouched. Already, we are in a position where it is unclear how much
control governments can exert over the global economy and the
information superhighway. Meanwhile, the dualistic process of
international organisation means that as states cede power and
authority over increasing aspects of public life to individual
international organisations in order to find solutions to their
collective action problems, they are also contributing to the erosion
of their sovereignty.

Finally, rather than global governance from the core, the global
polity could devolve into regional governance. This is not a new
concept. The German geopolitician, general and professor, Karl
Haushofer, provided perhaps the most (in-)famous exposition of this
view as a justification for German expansion during the Nazi period.
Haushofer's pan-regions foresaw the world being divided into a number
of autarkic political and economic zones, within each of which a
single great power would hold sway and exploit the resources of vassal
states and regions, excluding the influence and participation of its
great power rivals. The model for these regions would be the role
played by the United States in the Americas under the Monroe Doctrine.
Indeed, contemporary versions of this vision have referred to these
regions as 'Monroes.' However, more positive images of regional
governance have evolved in recent years. According to the article 33
of Chapter VI of the UN Charter, regional bodies are regarded as
agencies of the first resort in dealing with disputed among their own
members. This article notes: The parties to any dispute, the
continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of
international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution
by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration,
judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or
other peaceful means of their own choice. At least from 1945,
therefore, conflict resolution has been central to the process of

From a liberal perspective, regions can form "zones of peace" through
facilitation of the liberal virtuous triangle of democratisation,
interdependence and international organization. All three sides of
this triangle are most easily implemented within a geographically
distinct region of contiguous states, preferably with a shared
heritage. All three sides of the virtuous triangle have been shown
independently to be statistically significant in the reduction of
conflict, but when combined, as is most likely in the regional
context, the whole effect has been demonstrated to be greater than the
parts. From a constructivist viewpoint, two processes originating from
regionalism can be seen to have a bearing on the resolution of
international conflicts. Firstly, the identification and promotion of
a sense of community identity within a region not only directly leads
to the reduction of conflict between constituent parts of the region,
but also increases the legitimacy of third parties, whether other
regional states or regional organizations, intervening to resolve an
intra-regional conflict. Second, through a process of spillover from
low politics to high politics, and the establishment of a culture of
"yesability" due to repeated instances of successful and peaceful
interaction, cooperation, joint conflict resolution, and collective
benefit gradually replaces the primacy of national interest and
zero-sum reasoning in security discourse.

In sum, the new regionalism includes economic, political, social and
cultural aspects, and goes far beyond free trade. Rather, the
political ambition of establishing regional coherence and regional
identity seems to be of primary importance. The new regionalism is
linked to globalisation and can therefore not be understood merely
from the point of view of the single region. Rather it should be
defined as a world order concept, since any particular process of
regionalisation in any part of the world has systemic repercussions on
other regions, thus shaping the way in which the new world order is
being organized. It therefore forms an ideal focus for a South-South
research initiative.

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