The 'English School' in China: A Travelogue of Ideas and Their Diffusion

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Why does International Relations (IR) still remain ‘a not so international discipline’? What promotes/constrains the diffusion of non- American ideas to national IR epistemic communities beyond the trans-Atlantic community as well as Europe? In this article, I tell the story of how the English School (ES) as a non-mainstream approach to theorizing about IR has travelled to China. I examine the way in which the transmission of ideas associated with the ES has influenced the IR theoretical discourse in China to date. Borrowing insights from recent constructivist theorization on how norms and ideas diffuse, I offer sociologically informed explanations of how and why the American intellectual hegemony in IR has been reproduced in a national IR academic community. They suggest that the enduring dominance of the American scholarship in peripheral IR epistemic communities has less to do with either the power or the persuasiveness of ideas than with the American entrepreneurship in promoting international studies. The lessons learned from this story argue strongly for an additional agenda for the reconvened ES.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-114
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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