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Norms, Storytelling and International Institutions in China

The Imperative to Narrate

Xiaoyu Lu

ca. 96,29
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Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Politisches System


This book is a political ethnography of norm diffusion and storytelling through international institutions in China. It is driven by intellectual puzzles and realpolitik questions: are we converging or diverging on values? Do emerging powers reinforce or reshape the existing international order? Are international institutions socialising emerging powers or being used to promote alternative norms? This book addresses these questions through fieldwork research over three years at the United Nations Development Programme in China, the first international development agency to enter post-reform China in 1979. It provides a crucial case to study the everyday practices of norm diffusion in emerging powers, and highlights the central role of storytelling in translating and contesting normative scripts. The book selects norms in human rights, rule of law and development cooperation to analyse how translators and brokers innovatively use stories to advocate, and how these normative stories move back-and-forth between local-global spaces and orders.

"A fascinating ethnography that tells us much about international institutions and China's changing role in the world: of interest both to China specialists and theorists of international relations."

Rana Mitter, Director of the University of Oxford China Centre, University of Oxford, UK

“Through pioneering ethnographic research, Xiaoyu Lu’s outstanding book makes a major contribution to our understanding of norm diffusion and the ways in which China is shaping, and is shaped by, international development norms. Lu’s richly textured analysis shows how ‘norm translators’ use case studies, personal stories, and other narratives to negotiate between global and local normative orders, and to facilitate the day-to-day processes of norm diffusion."

Amy King, Associate Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, Australia

"An intricate account of the everyday politics in international development institution, that will enrich our understanding of emerging powers and their roles in global development.”

Emma Mawdsley, Director of the Margaret Anstee Centre for Global Studies, University of Cambridge, UK


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Global Ethnography, Public Policy, China, International Development, Global Governance, Norm Diffusion