ASTK15401U CANCELLED - COURSE: The Rise of the Rest: Western and Non-Western Perspectives

Volume 2015/2016

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS

Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


Elective course - SRM

Bachelor students can only sign up for this course if they are enrolled at political science


It is widely believed that the center of gravity in world politics is shifting away from the West; that the West is in relative decline while the Rest is finally rising economically and politically. The global financial crisis and Western engagements in the Middle East only accelerated this process and developing ‘Third World’ countries now appear to be closing economic and technological gaps much faster than expected. The rise of non-Western countries represents one of the greatest challenges to International Relations in our time and yet it is one that we are particularly ill equipped to understand. With the rise of the rest, the structure of the international system is increasingly described as diffuse, apolar and regionalized. The future of global governance, international institutions and Western values is being questioned and traditional Western IR theories are skeptical that such changes of the existing world order, and power transitions in general, can be peaceful. Meanwhile, non-Western scholars have criticized existing theories for being Eurocentric, US-biased and the tools of Western hegemony. From this perspective, change is welcomed as an inevitable, peaceful and stabilizing force.

The Western world has tragic historical experiences with the effects of dramatic redistributions of power on peace, order and stability. When the question of rising powers is addressed by Western policymakers or academics, the problem is often framed as how to ‘manage’ rising powers within the existing world order so as to avoid instability and war. This approach remains guided by the classical realist question of rising power ‘revisionism’: will emerging powers integrate into the economic, financial and political institutions of the existing world order or try to revise it? Power transition theorists expects that uneven economic growth will lead to shifts in relative power, and eventually, when rising powers have surpassed the existing great powers, to a disruption of the existing world order and architecture of global governance. Not all share the deterministic conclusions of power transition theory, but it is widely believed that profound rearrangements of global order have historically been the product of wars and post-war settlements and thus that peaceful adaptations to power transitions are difficult. Liberal institutionalist perspectives have also been preoccupied with the stability of liberal hegemonic institutions, even with the decline of US hegemony, and how to integrate and socialize rising powers into these.

The world order instated by the United States and the victors of World War II in institutions such as the UN Security Council, WTO, IMF and the World Bank is under pressure for change. Collectives of emerging powers, such as the BRICS, have called for a reform and democratization of these institutions of global governance to give the global South a greater voice. Emerging powers are no longer spectators but increasingly protagonists of the changing world order. While the pledge for a changed and more just world order have a clear counter-hegemonic, if not anti-Western, tone, they are also accompanied by the commitment “to building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.” A multipolar world where US power is balanced by new power centers is seen as a prerequisite for this. Rising powers have thus put forward ideas of the “Insertion of the Global South” “China’s Peaceful Rise” and “Harmonious World” as interventions to the hegemonic knowledge about rising powers.

The course focuses on the so-called ‘Rise of the Rest’ and the future of the Western-led world order, specifically the controversies over the rise of non-Western great powers and the decline of the West. It will consider both Western and non-Western perspectives on international relations and discuss the similarities and differences between them. The course thus revolves around one main question: do Western and non-Western perspectives on the ‘rise of the rest’ differ and if so how can we understand these different perspectives on world politics?

Topics: Power transitions and the rise of non-Western great powers, non-Western perspectives on international relations, power transitions theory and hegemonic stability theory, critical theory, sociology of knowledge, postcolonial theory, global governance.

Cases: As our primary cases, we will focus on the debate on rising powers in the United States and Europe and later look more closely at the academic and policy debates in China, India and Brazil.

Learning Outcome

Upon completion of the course, students should (a) be able to demonstrate familiarity with the main approaches to power transition, rising powers and world order in international relations; (b) be able to identify the challenges that non-Western and post-colonial thought poses to existing frameworks and to think outside the usual social science categories of the Western tradition; (c) be able to analyze one or more of these traditions in relation to specific cases of rising non-Western powers; (d) be able to make informed, analytical evaluations of both different approaches to power transition and their principal critics (e) be able to think critically about questions of the universality of IR theories and the possibilities for different geocultural epistemologies. With a deepened insight into the main Western IR theories on rising powers as well as the perspectives from non-Western countries like China, India and Brazil, students will gain competences that will put them in better position to reflect upon the challenges of a post-western world order.

Most readings will be available online but it is recommended to acquire the following book:  Arlene Tickner and Ole Wæver (eds.). 2009. International Relations Scholarship Around the World. London: Routledge. We will also read several chapters from a special issue in the journal International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, available online and in book format: Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan, eds. 2010. Non-Western International Relations Theory. Abingdon: Routledge. Other special issues worth reading before course start are New Perspectives Quarterly volume 25(3) on the ‘Rise of the Rest’, Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional volume 53(special issue), and International Studies Review volume 10(4).

Session 1. The puzzle and introduction.

Readings : The Rise of the Rest (82 pages)

Zakaria, Fareed. 2008. “The Future of American Power: How America Can Survive the Rise of the Rest.” Foreign Affairs 87(3): 18-43.

Khanna, Parag. 2008. “Here Comes the Second World.” New Perspectives Quarterly 25(3): 7-12

Zakaria, Fareed. 2008. “Facing a Post-American World” New Perspectives Quarterly 25(3): 13–17.

Ikenberry, G. John. 2008. “China and the Rest Are Only Joining the American-Built Order.” New Perspectives Quarterly 25(3): 18-21

Slaughter, Anne-Marie. 2008. “Be Wary of Asian Triumphalism” New Perspectives Quarterly 25(3): 22-23

Mahbubani, Kishore. 2008. “When Western Interests Trump Values” New Perspectives Quarterly 25(3): 23-28 (note that pages in pdf are in wrong order)

Serfaty, Simon. 2011. “Moving into a Post-Western World” The Washington Quarterly 34(2): 7-23

Andrew F. Hart & Bruce D. Jones. 2011. “How Do Rising Powers Rise?” Survival 52(6): 63-88.

Sessions 2-3. Framework

Readings: National perspectives on the international (107 pages)

Hoffmann, Stanley. 1977. “An American Social Science: International Relations.” Daedalus 106(3): 41-60.

Wæver, Ole. 1998. “The Sociology of a Not So International Discipline: American and European Developments in International Relations.” International Organization 52(4): 687–727.

Smith, Steve. 2002. “The United States and the Discipline of International Relations: “Hegemonic Country, Hegemonic Discipline” International Studies Review 4(2): 67-85.

Cox, Robert W. 1981. “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 10(2): 126-155.


Readings: International Relations beyond the West (108 pages)

Acharya, Amitav, and Barry Buzan. 2007. “Why is there no non-Western international relations theory? An introduction.” International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 7(3): 287-312.

Tickner, Arlene, and Ole Wæver. 2009. International Relations Scholarship Around the World. London: Routledge. “Introduction: Geocultural Epistemologies” 1-31.

Tickner, Arlene. 2003. “Seeing IR Differently: Notes from the Third World.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 32(2): 295-324.

Puchala, Donald J. 1997. “Some Non-Western Perspectives on International Relations” Journal of Peace Research 34(2): 129-134.

Agnew, John. 2007. “Know-Where: Geographies of Knowledge of World Politics” International Political Sociology 1(2): 138-148.

Bilgin, Pinar. 2008. “Thinking past 'Western' IR?.” Third World Quarterly 29(1): 5-23.

Session 4-8. Theories

Are rising powers always revisionist? (124 pages)

Carr, Edward Hallett. 1939. Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations. New York: Harper Perennial. pp. ix-xi and 264-284.

Kissinger, Henry A. 1957. A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-22. Cambridge: The Riverside Press. pp. 1-6.

Schweller, Randall L. 1999. “Managing the Rise of Great Powers.” in Engaging China: The Management of an Emerging Power, ed. by Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert Ross. New York: Routledge. 1-31.

Johnston, Alaistair Iain. 2003. “Is China a Status Quo Power?” International Security 27(4): 5-56.

Mearsheimer, John J. 2006. “China’s Unpeaceful Rise.” Current History 105: 160–162.

Legro, Jeffrey W. 2007. “What will China Want: The Future Intentions of a Rising Power.” Perspectives on Politics 5(3): 515-534.


Readings: Will power transition automatically result in conflict? (127 pages)

Kugler, Jacek and A. F. K. Organski. 1980. The War Ledger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 13-63

Naazneen Barma, Giacomo Chiozza, Ely Ratner and Steven Weber. 2009. “A World Without the West? Empirical Patterns and Theoretical Implications” Chinese Journal of International Politics 2(4): 525-544.

Kugler, Jacek. 2006. “The Asian Ascent: Opportunity for Peace or Precondition for War?” International Studies Perspectives 7: 36-42.

Chan, Steve. 2005. “Is There a Power Transition between the U.S. and China? The Different Faces of National Power.” Asian Survey 45(5): 687-701.

Beckley, Michael. 2012. “China’s Century? Why America’s Edge Will Endure.” International Security 36(3): 41-78.


Readings: Will the decline of the US lead to the decline of Pax Americana? (97 pages)

Keohane, Robert O. 1980. “The Theory of Hegemonic Stability and Changes in International Economic Regimes 1967-1977” In Change in the International System, eds. Ole Holsti, Randolph Siverson, and Alexander George.  Boulder: Westview. pp. 131-157.

Kindleberger, Charles P. 1981. "Dominance and Leadership in the International Economy: Exploitation, Public Goods, and Free Rides." International Studies Quarterly 25(June): 242-254.

Ikenberry, G. John. 2008. “The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal System Survive?.” Foreign Affairs 87(1): 23-37.

Snyder, Quddus Z. 2012. “Integrating rising powers: liberal systemic theory and the mechanism of competition” Review of International Studies, forthcoming. pp. 1-23

Bremmer, Ian and Nouriel Roubini. 2011. “A G-Zero World. The New Economic Club Will Produce Conflict, Not Cooperation.” Foreign Affairs 90(2) March/April 2011.

Woods, Ngaire. 2010. “Global Governance after the Financial Crisis: A New Multilateralism or the Last Gasp of the Great Powers?” Global Policy 1(1): 51-63.

BRICS. 2012. “Fourth BRICS Summit – Delhi declaration” Delhi, March 29, 2012.


Readings: What is the impact of rising non-Western powers on global governance? (88 pages)

Florini, Ann. 2011. “Rising Asian Powers and Changing Global Governance.” International Studies Review 13(1), 24-33.

Terhalle, Maximilian. 2011. “Reciprocal Socialization: Rising Powers and the West.” International Studies Perspectives 12(4): 341–361.

Schirm, Stefan. 2010. “Leaders in need of followers: Emerging powers in global governance.” European Journal of International Relations 16(2): 197-221.

Hurrell, Andrew. 2006. “Hegemony, liberalism and global order: what space for would-be great powers?” International Affairs 82(1): 1-19.

Humphrey, John and Dirk Messner. 2006. “China and India as Emerging Global Governance Actors: Challenges for Developing and Developed Countries” IDS Bulletin 37(1): 107-114

Roberts, Cynthia. 2011. “Building the New World Order BRIC by BRIC” The European Financial Review, February/March, pp. 4-8.


Readings: The 2012 debate on American decline (50 pages)

Kagan, Robert. 2012. “Not Fade Away: The Myth of American Decline.” The New Republic February 2, 2012.

Keohane, Robert O. 2012. “Hegemony and After: Knowns and Unknowns in the Debate Over Decline.” Foreign Affairs 91(4): 114-118.

Layne, Christopher. 2012. “This Time It’s Real: The End of Unipolarity and the Pax Americana.” International Studies Quarterly, 56(1): 203–213.

Nye, Joseph S. 2012. “The Twenty-First Century Will Not Be a “Post-American” World.” International Studies Quarterly 56(1): 215–217.

Nye, Joseph S. 2010. “The Future of American Power: Dominance and Decline in Perspective.” Foreign Affairs 89(6): 2-12.

Rachman, Gideon. 2011. “American Decline: This Time It’s For Real” Foreign Policy, January/February 2011.

Joffe, Josef. 2012. “Declinism's Fifth Wave.” The American Interest, January/February issue.

Rogin, Josh. 2012. “Obama embraces Romney advisor's theory on 'The Myth of American Decline'” Foreign Policy, January 26, 2012.

Mitt Romney (2012), How I’ll respond to China’s rising power, Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2012.

Hillary Clinton (2012), America’s Pacific Century, Foreign Policy, November 2011.

Session 9. Writing Workshop

Try to operationalize this into a research question that you are able to answer in a short essay (5250 words).


Session 10-13. Non-Western Perspectives on the Rise of the Rest

The full list will be in Absalon

The academic prerequisites are an introductory course in International Relations, basic knowledge about the main theories in International Relations (realism, liberalism, constructivism and critical theories).
The format will be a combination of lectures, guest lectures, student presentations and focused group discussions. Sessions are planned to last for two hours each. All participants are expected to present at least once. We will devote a mid term session to a writing workshop where we discuss student proposals for final papers and what is expected from final papers. All participants in the writing workshop are expected to have read the proposals of other students and give feedback.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner