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How postcolonial is post-Western IR? Mimicry and mētis in the international politics of Russia and Central Asia

  • Catherine Owen (a1), John Heathershaw (a2) and Igor Savin (a3)


Scholars of International Relations have called for the creation of a post-Western IR that reflects the global and local contexts of the declining power and legitimacy of the West. Recognising this discourse as indicative of the postcolonial condition, we deploy Homi Bhabha’s concept of mimicry and James C. Scott’s notion of mētis to assess whether international political dynamics of a hybrid kind are emerging. Based on interviews with Central Asian political, economic, and cultural elites, we explore the emergence of a new global politics of a post-Western type. We find that Russia substantively mimics the West as a post-Western power and that there are some suggestive examples of the role of mētis in its foreign policy. Among Central Asian states, the picture is more equivocal. Formal mimicry and mētis of a basic kind are observable, but these nascent forms suggest that the dialectical struggle between colonial clientelism and anti-colonial nationalism remains in its early stages. In this context, a post-Western international politics is emerging with a postcolonial aspect but without the emergence of the substantive mimicry and hybrid spaces characteristic of established postcolonial relations.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence to: Catherine Owen, Department of Politics, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, University of Exeter, EX4 4RJ. Author’s email:
**Correspondence to: John Heathershaw, Department of Politics, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, University of Exeter, EX4 4RJ. Author’s email:
***Correspondence to: Igor Savin, Institute of Oriental Studies, ul. Rozhdestvenka, 12, Moscow, Russia, 107031. Author’s email:


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1 Throughout this article, when referring to the discipline, we either capitalise the words ‘International Relations’ or abbreviate them (IR), but leave them uncapitalised when referring to practices of global politics.

2 Acharya, Amitav and Buzan, Barry, ‘Why is there no non-Western International Relations theory? An introduction’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 7 (2007), pp. 287312 .

3 Chen, Ching-Chang, ‘The absence of non-Western IR theory in Asia reconsidered’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 11 (2011), pp. 123 ; Hutchings, Kimberly, ‘Dialogue between whom? The role of the West/non-West distinction in promoting global dialogue in IR’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 39:3 (2011), pp. 639647 ; Makarychev, Andrey and Morozov, Viatcheslav, ‘Is “non-Western theory” possible? The idea of multipolarity and the trap of epistemological relativism in Russian IR’, International Studies Review, 15 (2013), pp. 328350 .

4 Wæver, Ole and Tickner, Arlene, ‘Introduction: Geocultural epistemologies’, in Arlene Tickner and Ole Wæver (eds), International Relations Scholarship around the World: Worlding beyond the West (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009), p. 10 .

5 Bhabha, Homi, The Location of Culture (Abingdon: Routledge, 1994).

6 Ling, L. H. M., ‘Cultural chauvinism and the liberal international order: “West versus rest” in Asia’s financial crisis’, in Chowdhry Geeta and Sheila Nair (eds), Power, Postcolonialism and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender and Class (Oxford: Routledge, 2004), ch. 5.

7 Scott, James C., Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

8 See MacKay, Joseph and Levin, Jamie, ‘Hanging out in international politics: Two kinds of explanatory political ethnography for IR’, International Studies Review, 17 (2015), pp. 163188 ; Vrasti, Wanda, ‘The strange case of ethnography and International Relations”, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 37:2 (2008), pp. 279301 .

9 Buzan, Barry, ‘China in international society: Is “peaceful rise” possible?’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 3 (2010), pp. 536; Cox, Michael, ‘Power shifts, economic change and the decline of the West?’, International Relations, 26:4 (2012), pp. 369388 ; John Ikenberry, G., ‘The future of the liberal world order: Internationalism after America’, Foreign Affairs (May/June 2011).

10 Schweller, Randall, ‘Emerging powers in an age of disorder’, Global Governance, 17:3 (2011), pp. 285297 .

11 A subset of this group are empiricists who deploy the rise/fall monikers as a foil for data-driven analyses of power and/or institutions, typically discovering a mixed picture, but nonetheless one that presents the ‘rise’ of Asia as a ‘threat’ to the foundations of liberal internationalism. This camp includes much work in IPE, both historical materialist and moderate constructivist. See Jacques, Martin, When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order (2nd edn, London: Penguin, 2012); Kahler, Miles, ‘Rising powers and global governance: Negotiating change in a resilient status quo’, International Affairs, 89:3 (2013), pp. 711729 ; Layne, Christopher, ‘This time it’s real: the end of unipolarity and the Pax Americana’, International Studies Quarterly, 56 (2012), pp. 203213 ; White, Hugh, The China Choice: Why We Should Share Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Stephen, Matthew, ‘Rising powers, global capitalism and liberal governance: a historical materialist account of the BRICS challenge’, European Journal of International Relations, 20:4 (2014), pp. 912938 .

12 Acharya, and Buzan, , ‘Why is there no non-Western International Relations theory?’; Amitav Acharya, ‘Dialogue and discovery: In search of International Relations theories beyond the West’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 39:3 (2011), pp. 619637 ; Hobson, John, ‘Is critical theory always for the white West and for Western imperialism? Beyond Westphilian towards a post-racist critical IR’, Review of International Studies, 33 (2007), pp. 91116 .

13 The distinction between Pluralists and Particularists is made by Vasilaki, Rosa, ‘Provincialising IR? Deadlocks and prospects in post-Western IR theory’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 41:3 (2012), pp. 322 .

14 Makarychev, and Morozov, , ‘Is “non-Western” theory possible?’; Yaqing Qin, ‘Why is there no Chinese International Relations theory?’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 7 (2007), pp. 313340 ; Tsygankov, Andrei and Tsygankov, Pavel, ‘National ideology and IR theory: Three incarnations of the “Russian Idea”’, European Journal of International Relations, 16:4 (2010), pp. 663686 ; Shani, Gregorio, ‘Towards a post-Western IR: the Umma, Khalsa Panth, and critical International Relations theory’, International Studies Review, 10 (2008), pp. 722734 (who confuses matters by denoting non-Western IR as (proper, valid) ‘post-Western IR’).

15 Chen, ‘The absence of non-Western IR theory in Asia reconsidered’; Hutchings, ‘Dialogue between whom?’; Ling, L. H. M., ‘Worlds beyond Westphalia: Daoist dialectics and the “China threat”’, Review of International Studies, 39:3 (2013), pp. 549568 .

16 Ling, ‘Worlds beyond Westphalia’, pp. 554–5.

17 Paris, Roland, ‘Saving liberal peacebuilding’, Review of International Studies, 6:2 (2010), pp. 337365 . See also Sabaratnam, Meera, ‘Avatars of Eurocentrism in the critique of the liberal peace’, Security Dialogue, 44:3 (2013), p. 260 ; Oliver Richmond and Roger Mac Ginty, ‘Where now for the critique of the liberal peace?’, Cooperation and Conflict, published online (20 August 2014), p. 7.

18 Acharya, ‘Dialogue and discovery’.

19 Acharya and Buzan, ‘Why is there no non-Western International Relations theory?’.

20 Makarychev and Morozov, ‘Is “non-Western” theory possible?’; Qin, ‘Why is there no Chinese International Relations theory?’; Tsyagnakov and Tsyagankov, ‘National ideology and IR theory’; Shani, ‘Towards a post-Western IR’.

21 Acharya, , ‘Dialogue and discovery’; Amitav Acharya, ‘Global international relations and regional worlds: a new agenda for international studies’, International Studies Quarterly, 58 (2014), pp. 647659 .

22 Ling, ‘Worlds beyond Westphalia’, p. 7.

23 Vasilaki, ‘Provincialising IR?’.

24 Bilgin, Pinar, ‘Thinking past “Western” IR’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1 (2008), pp. 523 .

25 Inayatullah, Naeem and Blaney, David, International Relations and the Problem of Difference (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 12 .

26 Behera, Navnita Chadha, ‘Re-imagining IR in India’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 7 (2007), pp. 341368 ; Sutter, Robert, Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War (3rd edn, Plymouth: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012); Ivan Campbell, Thomas Wheeler, Larry Attree, Dell Marie Butler, and Bernado Mariani, ‘China and Conflict Affected States: Between Principle and Pragmatism’, Saferworld Report (2012); Breslin, Shaun, ‘China and the global order: Signalling threat or friendship?’, International Affairs, 89:3 (2013), pp. 615634 ; Narlikar, Amrita, ‘India rising: Responsible to whom?’, International Affairs, 89:3 (2013), pp. 595614 .

27 Acharya, Amitav, ‘Advancing global IR: Challenges, contentions and contributions’, International Studies Review, 18:1 (2016), p. 5 .

28 Acharya, ‘Advancing global IR’, p. 14.

29 Hurrell, Andrew, ‘Beyond critique? How to study global IR’, International Studies Review, 18:1 (2016), p. 151 .

30 See Bal, Mieke, Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002); Frank, Michael C., ‘Imaginative geography as a travelling concept: Foucault, Saïd and the spatial turn’, European Journal of English Studies, 13:1 (2009), pp. 6177 .

31 The authors wish to thank an anonymous reviewer for directing them to this literature.

32 Not all scholars of historical IR adhere to this view. For instance, David Kang contrasts the Chinese tribute system, which ensured five centuries of peaceful international relations with Korea, Japan, and Vietnam through Confucian hierarchical relations, with the Westphalian system that developed in Europe and relied on balance of power between formally equal, sovereign entities. See Kang, David, East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

33 Hui, Victoria Tin-Bor, War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

34 Phillips, Andrew, War, Religion and Empire: The Transformation of International Orders (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

35 Johnston, Alastair Iain, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Ming China (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995); Lee, Ji-Young, China’s Hegemony: Four Hundred Years of East Asian Domination (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016).

36 Yongjin, Zhang and Buzan, Barry, ‘The tributary system as international society in theory and practice’, Chinese Journal of International Politics, 5:1 (2012).

37 Buranelli, Filippo Costa, ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s door: Russia, Central Asia and the mediated expansion of international society’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42:3 (2014), pp. 817836 . A similar point is made by Neumann, Iver B. and Pouliot, Vincent, ‘Untimely Russia: Hysteresis in Russian-Western Relations over the past millennium’, Security Studies, 20:1 (2011), pp. 105137 .

38 Jones, Branwen Gruffydd, Decolonizing International Relations (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006).

39 Taylor, Lucy, ‘Decolonizing international relations: Perspectives from Latin America’, International Studies Review, 14 (2012), pp. 386400 .

40 Ling, ‘Worlds beyond Westphalia’, p. 556.

41 Bhabha, The Location of Culture, p. 122.

42 Bhabha, Homi, ‘Signs taken for wonders: Questions of ambivalence and authority under a tree outside Delhi, May 1817’, Critical Inquiry, 12 (1985).

43 Johnston, Alasdair Ian, Social States: China in International Institutions 1980–2000 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008); Collins, Alan, ‘Norm diffusion and ASEAN’s adoption and adaption of global HIV/AIDS norms’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 13 (2013); see Tan, Seng, ‘Herding cats: the role of persuasion in political change and continuity in the Association of South-East Asian Nations’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 13:2 (2013), pp. 233265 ; Ferdinand, Peter and Wang, Jue, ‘China and the IMF: From mimicry to pragmatic international institutional pluralism’, International Affairs, 89:4 (2013), pp. 895910 .

44 Bilgin, ‘Thinking past “Western” IR’.

45 Hobson, John and Seabrooke, Leonard, ‘Everyday IPE: Revealing everyday forms of change in the world economy’, in John Hobson and Leonard Seabrooke (eds), Everyday Politics of the World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), ch. 1, p. 17.

46 Ling in Chowdhry and Nair (eds), Power, Postcolonialism and International Relations.

47 Ibid., p. 117. See also Ling, L. H. M., Postcolonial International Relations: Conquest and Desire Between Asia and the West (London: Palgrave, 2002); Ling, Huang, and Chen, ‘Subaltern straits’.

48 West, David, Social Movements in Global Politics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013).

49 Scott, James C., Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale, 1990), p. 3 .

50 Ibid., p. 4.

51 Ibid., p. 21.

52 Scott, Seeing Like a State, pp. 6, 313.

53 Meera Sabaratnam, ‘Rethinking the Liberal Peace: Anti-Colonial Thought and Post-War Intervention in Mozambique’ (PhD dissertation, London School of Economics, 2011), p. 156.

54 Philips, Andrew, ‘Global IR meets global history: Sovereignty, modernity and the international system’s expansion into the Indian Ocean’, International Studies Review, 18 (2016), p. 64 .

55 Acharya, Amitav, ‘How ideas spread: Whose norms matter? Norm localization and institutional change in Asian regionalism’, International Organization, 58:2 (2004), pp. 239275 .

56 Philips, ‘Global IR meets global history’.

57 Ibid.

58 Scott, Seeing Like a State, p. 340.

59 Heathershaw, John, Post-Conflict Tajikistan: The Politics of Peacebuilding and the Emergence of Legitimate Order (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009); Sabaratnam, Rethinking the Liberal Peace; Marta Iñiguez de Heredia, ‘Everyday Resistance in Post-Conflict Statebuilding: The Case of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’ (PhD dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2013).

60 Certeau, Michel de, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); Isachenko, Daria, The Making of Informal States: Statebuilding in Northern Cyprus and Transdniestria (Basingstoke: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012); Veit, Alex, Intervention as Indirect Rule: Civil War and Statebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2010).

61 Guevara, Beril Bliesemann de and Kühn, Florian, ‘On Afghan footbaths and sacred cows in Kosovo: Urban legends of intervention’, Peacebuilding, 3:1 (2013), pp. 1735 .

62 Dave, Bhavna, Kazakhstan: Ethnicity, Language and Power (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007), pp. 2324 .

63 Ibid., p. 24.

64 In February 2017, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov explicitly called for a ‘post-West world order’ at the Munich Security Conference; whether this discourse will be mirrored in practice over the long term remains to be seen. See ‘Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Address and Answers to Questions at the 53rd Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 18, 2017’, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (18 February 2017), available at: {}.

65 Neumann, Iver, Russia and the Idea of Europe (Abingdon: Routledge, 1996).

66 Laruelle, Marlene, Russian Eurasianism: An Ideology of Empire (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008), p. 8 . See also Shlapentokh, Dmitry, ‘Dugin Eurasianism: a window on the minds of the Russian elite or an intellectual ploy?’, Studies in East European Thought, 59:3 (2007), pp. 215236 .

67 Andrei Kozyrev, ‘The lagging partnership: In search of a joint strategy’, Foreign Affairs (May/June 1994).

68 Tsygankov, Andrei, Russia’s Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity (3rd edn, Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013), p. 63 .

69 Ling in Chowdhry and Nair (eds), Power in a Postcolonial World, p. 116.

70 Stiglitz, Joseph, Globalization and its Discontents (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2002).

71 Aslund, Anders, ‘Revisiting the end of the Soviet Union’, Problems of Post-Communism, 58 (2011), pp. 45 .

72 Tsygankov, Russia’s Foreign Policy, p. 69.

73 See Toal, Gerard, Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 57 .

74 Sakwa, Richard, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I. B. Taurus, 2014); Allison, Roy, ‘Russia and Syria: Explaining alignment with a regime in crisis’, International Affairs, 89:4 (2013), pp. 795823 .

75 Thakur, Ramesh, ‘How representative are BRICS?’, Third World Quarterly, 35:10 (2014), pp. 17911808 .

76 Morozov, Viatcheslav, Russia’s Postcolonial identity: A Subaltern Empire in a Eurocentric World (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), p. 103 .

77 Ibid., p. 23.

78 Zarakol, Ayşe, After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 238 .

79 Okara, Andrei, ‘Sovereign democracy: a new Russian idea or a PR project?’, Russia in Global Affairs, 5:3 (2007).

80 Averre, Derek and Davies, Lance, ‘Russia, humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect: the case of Syria’, International Affairs, 91:4 (2015), pp. 813834 ; Ronald Asmus, A Little War that Shook the World (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010).

81 Tyler Roylance, ‘Russia spoofs the human rights report’, Freedom House (3 January 2012), available at: {}.

82 Oversloot, Hans and Verheul, Reuben, ‘Managing democracy: Political parties and the state in Russia’, Journal of Communist Studies and Opposition Politics, 22:3 (2006), p. 392 .

83 Rilka Dragnaeva and Kataryna Wolczuk, ‘Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union and the EU: Cooperation, Stagnation or Rivalry?’, Chatham House Briefing Paper, Russia and Eurasia Programme (2012), p. 2.

84 Shevtsova, Lilia, ‘Forward to the past in Russia’, Journal of Democracy, 26:2 (2015), p. 26 .

85 Interviews: representative of the Association of Politologists Kyrgyzstan, November 2013; Institute of International Economy and International Relations, RAS, Moscow, December 2013; Centre of Political Research; Presidium of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, July 2013.

86 Interview with editor of political magazine, Dushanbe, November 2013.

87 See, for example, Heathershaw, John, ‘The global performance state: a reconsideration of the Central Asian “weak state”’, in Madeleine Reeves, Johan Rasanayagam, and Judith Beyer (eds), Performing Politics in Central Asia: Ethnographies of the State (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), pp. 3961 .

88 Interview with Russian academic, Moscow, June 2013.

89 Interview with Human Rights activist, Bishkek, November 2013.

90 Interview with journalist, Bishkek, November 2013.

91 Yurchak, Alexei, Everything Was Forever Until it Was No More (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).

92 Moore, David Chioni, ‘Is the post- in postcolonial the post- in post-Soviet? Towards a global postcolonial critique’, PMLA, 116:1 (2001), pp. 111128 ; Beissinger, Mark, ‘Soviet Empire as “family resemblance”’, Slavic Review, 65:2 (2006), pp. 294303 .

93 Hirsch, Francine, ‘Toward an empire of nations: Border-making and the formation of Soviet national identities’, Russian Review, 59:2 (2000), pp. 201226 ; Martin, Terry, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001).

94 Masov, Rahim, Istoriya Topornovo Razdeleniya [History of an Axe-Like Delimitation] (Dushanbe: Irfon, 1991); Northrop, Douglas, Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004); Adams, Laura, ‘Can we apply postcolonial theory to Central Eurasia?’, Central Eurasian Studies Review, 7:1 (2008), pp. 27 ; Kassymbekova, Botakoz, ‘Helpless imperialists: European state workers in Soviet Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s’, Central Asian Survey, 30:1 (2011), pp. 2137 ; Dave, Kazakhstan; Malika Bohavidonova and Artemy M. Kalinovksy, ‘Internationalism and (Post)Colonialism: Central Asia and Soviet Development Paradigm’, unpublished conference paper, ‘IMPERIAL REVERB: Exploring the Postcolonies of Communism’, Princeton University (13–15 May 2016).

95 Interview with Tajik journalist, Khudjand, November 2013.

96 Interview with former MP and Uzbek community leader, Bishkek, November 2013.

97 Interview with head of Central Asian news agency, Khudjand, November 2013.

98 Interview with Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, deputy leader, Dushanbe, November 2013.

99 For an overview of Russian military and political engagement in Kyrgyzstan since 2010, see Lewis, DavidRe-asserting hegemony in Central Asia: Russian policy in post-2010 Kyrgyzstan’, Comillas Journal of International Relations, 1:3 (2015), pp. 5880 .

100 Interview with independent expert, Bishkek, November 2013.

101 Interview with Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Bishkek, November 2013.

102 Interview with opposition party member, Dushanbe, November 2013.

103 University of Exeter, Central Asian Political Exile database, version 1 (November 2016), available at: {}.

104 Rossiiskaya Gazeta, ‘Federal’nyi Zakon ot 20 iyulya 2012 g. N 121-F3 “O vnesenii izmenenii v otdel’nye zakonodatel’nye akty Rossiiskoi Federatsii v chasti regulirovaniya deyatel’nosti nekommercheskikh organizatsii, vypolnyayushchikh funktsii inostrannogo agenta’, Rossiiskaya Gazeta (23 July 2012), available at: {}.

105 Rossiiskaya Gazeta, ‘Federal’nyi Zakon ot 29 iyunya 2013 g. N 135-F3 g. Moskva “O vnesenii izmenenii v stat’yu 5 Federal’nogo zakona “O zashchite detei ot informatsii, prichinyayoshchei vred ikh zdorov’yu i razvitiyu” i otdel’nye zakonodatel’nye atky Rossiiskoi Federatsii v tselyakh zashchity detei ot informatsii, propagandiruyushchei otritsanie traditsionnykh semeinykh tsennostei’, Rossiiskaya Gazeta (2 July 2013), available at: {}.

106 Joanna Lillis, ‘Kazakhstan strikes down “gay propaganda” law after Olympics outcry’, (27 May 2015), available at: {}.

107 Franco Galdini, ‘Kyrgyzstan’s NGO and LGBT Crackdown’, The Diplomat (17 March 2016), available at: {}.

108 Interview with journalist and member of strategic studies think tank, Bishkek, November 2013.

109 Interview with member of public policy think tank, Bishkek, November 2013.

110 Interview with university lecturer and former UNDP member, Bishkek, November 2013.

111 Interview with independent expert, Bishkek, November 2013.

112 Interview with journalist and member of strategic studies think tank, Bishkek, November 2013.

113 Interview with head of Department for Social Research, National Academy of Sciences, Bishkek, November 2013.

114 There is a burgeoning academic literature on transnational corruption networks involving Central Asia. See Cooley, Alexander and Sharman, Jason, ‘Blurring the line between licit and illicit: Transnational corruption networks in Central Asia and beyond’, Central Asian Survey, 34:1 (2015), pp. 1128 ; Cooley, Alexander and Heathershaw, John, Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017); Marat, Erica, ‘Global money laundering and its domestic political consequences in Kyrgyzstan’, Central Asian Survey, 34:1 (2015), pp. 4656 ; Toktomushev, Kemel, ‘Regime security, base politics and rent-seeking: the local and global political economies of the American air base in Kyrgyzstan, 2001–2010’, Central Asian Survey, 34:1 (2015), pp. 5777 .

115 Ledeneva, Alena, Can Russia Modernise? Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

116 Dawisha, Karen, Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014).

117 Cooley and Heathershaw, Dictators Without Borders.

118 Ibid., pp. 95–101.

119 Ibid., pp. 153–7.

120 Morozov, Russia’s Postcolonial Identity; Zarakol, After Empire.

121 See, for example, Kyrgyzstan’s American airbase (2001–14), which was continued against Russia’s wishes, and Tajikistan rejection of Russian investment in favour of Chinese and even Western commerce (especially after the summit between Putin and Rahmon in 2005).

122 Moore, ‘Is the post- in postcolonial the post- in post-Soviet?’, p. 112.

123 Eisenstadt, Shmuel N., ‘Multiple modernities’, Daedalus, 129 (2000), pp. 129 ; Therborn, Göran, ‘Entangled modernities’, European Journal of Social Theory, 6:3 (2003), pp. 293305 ; Till Mostowlansky, ‘Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernities along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway’ (PhD thesis, University of Bern, 2013).

124 See also Jackson, Patrick, The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011).


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How postcolonial is post-Western IR? Mimicry and mētis in the international politics of Russia and Central Asia

  • Catherine Owen (a1), John Heathershaw (a2) and Igor Savin (a3)


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