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Contingent States

Greater China and Transnational Relations

2004
Author:

William A. Callahan

Contingent States

Studies the economic and ideological flow that permeates the borders of the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea

William A. Callahan argues that Greater China presents challenges not only to economic and political order but also to international relations theory. Callahan deconstructs the mainstream geopolitical and political-economic understandings of Greater China, tracing its emergence through an ethnographic analysis of four political “problems” in East Asia: the South China Sea disputes, Sino-Korean relations, the return of Hong Kong, and cross-straits relations.

William A. Callahan makes a significant contribution to the field by using cultural analysis to analyze the concept of Greater China.

Christopher R. Hughes, London School of Economics

In the 1990s, Greater China became the subject of debate as the site of either the danger of the “China threat” or the promise of Confucian capitalism. William A. Callahan argues that Greater China presents challenges not only to economic and political order but also to international relations theory. In fact, Greater China, though absent from geopolitical maps and international law, is very much present in economic and cultural exchange and exemplifies the contingent state of international politics.

Callahan deconstructs the mainstream geopolitical and political-economic understandings of Greater China, tracing its emergence through an ethnographic analysis of four political “problems” in East Asia: the South China Sea disputes, Sino-Korean relations, the return of Hong Kong, and cross-straits relations. Callahan shows how bureaucrats, outlaws, tycoons, academics, workers, politicians, and hooligans alike produce Greater China through networks of relations in local, national, regional, global, and transnational space. Finally, Contingent States reveals how each of the “problems” provoked theoretical innovations that depart from standard conceptions of sovereignty, democracy, and the nation-state.

Contingent States

William A. Callahan is senior lecturer of international politics and deputy director of the Center for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Durham, England, and the author of Imagining Democracy: Reading “The Events of May” in Thailand and Pollwatching, Elections, and Civil Society in Southeast Asia.

Contingent States

William A. Callahan makes a significant contribution to the field by using cultural analysis to analyze the concept of Greater China.

Christopher R. Hughes, London School of Economics

Contingent States is highly innovative, thoroughly researched, and well written.

Roland Bleiker, University of Queensland

William Callahan is a gifted theorist and an optimist. This book opens many fruitful and thought-provoking theoretical avenues.

The China Journal

William Callahan argues that China presents challenges, not only to economic and political order, but also to international relations theory.

Apade

Contingent States is a challenging read, combining the latest in critical theory with analysis of China’s little-known relations with its peripheral states. But the book rewards a close read (or two). It is full of thoughtful insights about identity politics in Greater China. Callahan’s book is an extremely timely and valuable contribution that should be read by IR theorists and Asia hands alike.

East Asia

Contingent States is a worthwhile book for critical theorists of mainstream international relations.

Perspectives on Politics

Four separate chapters on China’s ties with territories around its periphery—South China Sea, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan—are fascinating. He [Callahan] offers good stories even while rejecting all master narratives.

Perspectives on Political Science

Callahan approaches this inherently controversial topic with an innovative ‘civilizationist’ methodology. Callahan’s discussion is erudite indeed. Rather than a straightforward argument or disquisition, this is a Socratic exercise in which we ask one question and are answered with seven or eight new (and deeper) ones.

Journal of Asian Studies