Jochen Prantl awarded British Academy Conference Grant

Dr Jochen Prantl has been awarded a British Academy Conference Grant in support of his conference ‘Effective Multilateralism: Through the Looking Glass of East Asia` to be held in Beijing on 25-27 September this year. The award will complement existing funding from the Zvi Meitar/Vice-Chancellor Oxford University Research Prize in the Social Sciences as well as funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Centre for International Studies.

The conference will concentrate on East Asia as a test case, investigating in greater detail the question of effective multilateralism at the regional level. With China`s power rising, coupled with rapid militarization and a propensity for defection from regulatory regimes and resistance to normative change, the need to engage in a major discourse on effective multilateralism is particularly strong in this part of the world, where the problem-solving capacities of regional fora are still relatively underdeveloped. Analyzing the essence of multilateralism in East Asia helps to transcend an essentially Western-driven discourse and to gain a more subtle understanding of patterns of international cooperation across regions and institutions. In this context, China and Japan require perhaps special scholarly attention because they do not easily fit into Western theories of Realism or Liberalism, which are not very sensitive to the particular historical and cultural dimensions of international relations in East Asia. Yet, understanding and explaining their foreign policies is crucial, as both countries have key roles to play in regional economy and regional institution-building such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Plus Three process. In fact, regional stability will depend a great deal on China`s and Japan`s ability to define mutually compatible visions of cooperation to address collective action problems in East Asia. The conference will therefore seek to challenge and mitigate the hegemonic status of the Western IR discourse by encouraging theoretically-informed contributions in particular from Chinese and Japanese Academia. This will be the first step in the long-term objective to develop key concepts of international cooperation that can be used more widely.

Jochen Prantl is Senior Research Fellow in International Relations and Research Fellow of Nuffield College.