Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 2020 

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Introduction: Technologies of Stateness
Nehal Bhuta, Guy Fiti Sinclair

The Introduction provides an overview of the dossier and its main themes. It situates the contribution in a wider literature and points towards new research horizons on the relationship between state-making and international organization.

The League of Nations, Ethiopia, and the Making of States
Megan Donaldson

This article uses the case of Ethiopia to illustrate how the League of Nations refracted approaches to statehood. It shows the League 'making' states in multiple ways, formulating new standards for admission, but also changing the context in which such standards could be debated, applied, and contested. The article looks beyond intellectual debates about the nature of the state, into exchanges within foreign ministries and League committees, as well as state-making projects pursued in Addis Ababa. This illuminates the fragility of interwar definitions of the state, and challenges narratives that locate the pathologies of 'peripheral' statehood in the post-1945 era.

Imperial Internationalism: The Round Table Conference and the Making of India in London, 1930–1932
Stephen Legg

The India Round Table Conference (London, 1930-32) is presented here as a site of imperial internationalism, at which radical anti-colonialism was subsumed within the liberal technology of the conference. First, the influence of the League of Nations on the conference is examined, through exploring its role as model, precedent, potential arbiter and training ground. Second the paper explores the influence of other (Pan-Islamic, labour and spiritual) forms of internationalism at the London conference. New theorisations of the international are brought to bear on significant new archival and prosopographical material, making an original contribution through revisiting a founding moment in Indian political history.

Forging Modern States with Imperfect Tools: United Nations Technical Assistance for Public Administration in Decolonized States
Guy Fiti Sinclair

This article examines the UN's programs of technical assistance for public administration as a "technology of stateness" during the postwar period of decolonization. Drawing on original research in the UN Archives, the article shows how these programs connected with a larger network of actors interested in promoting public administration reforms in decolonized states. Additionally, the article analyzes the assemblage of governmental rationalities and technologies advanced by UN technical assistance, finding both a tendency towards the centralization of state power and an effort to decentralize and disarm state bureaucracies. In doing so, the article suggests new lines of research connecting the colonial concept of "good government" to the more recent discourse of "good governance."

Development Projections: The World Bank in Calcutta in the 1970s
Corinna R. Unger

This article studies the World Bank's Calcutta Urban Development Project (CUDP) in the 1970s through the lens of institutional projection. Specifically, it focuses on the World Bank's effort to strengthen the administrative capacity of the state of West Bengal as part of and as a condition for the success of urban development. The article critically engages with the characterization of the World Bank as an 'anti-politics machine' and argues that case of the CUDP shows that the organization, rather than trying to depoliticize India's development problems, acknowledged the distinctly political nature of these problems and tried to solve them with managerial means.

Inscribing the State: Constitution Drafting Manuals as Textual Technologies
Sara Kendall

The rise of expert knowledge in constitutional matters marks a turn toward "constitutional technicity," where constitution drafting is regarded as a domain of technical expertise inhabited by neutral and politically divested actors. This article considers the constitution drafting manual or handbook as a genre in which technical expertise confronts the political. These documents consolidate a view of what constitutes "best practice" in the production of contemporary state identity, yet they also act into the field of state-building, naturalizing particular understandings of the state that reflect liberal legalist norms. In this sense the constitution-drafting manual is a consequential legal material that enlists values and actors in the production of contemporary stateness.

The State and International Law: A Reading from the Global South
Luis Eslava, Sundhya Pahuja

In this essay we re-describe the relationship between international law and the state, reversing the usual imagined directionality of the flow between the two. At its most provocative, our argument is that rather than international law being a creation of the state, making the state is an ongoing project of international law. In the essay, we pay particular attention to the institutionalised project of development in order to illuminate the ways in which international law gives form to, and actualises, states, and then recirculates from a multiplicity of points "within" them.

Afterword: International Organizations and Technologies of Statehood
Ole Jacob Sending

The afterword discusses the contributions to the symposium by drawing links to cognate fields such as international relations, international law, and organisational studies. It reflects on the many insightful observations and arguments in the different contributions, and points to areas for future research, but also to areas where more extensive engagement with cognate fields may have been warranted.