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Saving National IR from Exceptionalism: The Dialogic Spirit and Self-Reflection in Chinese IR Theory
Xiaoting Li
Xiaoting Li
East China Normal University
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International Studies Review, viab012,
17 March 2021
Article history
03 February 2020
Revision received:
03 January 2021
21 February 2021
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This study proposes an analytical framework for explaining how national IR (international relations) can keep exceptionalism at bay and join global IR in promoting common understanding. Building on the premise that dialogue is key to bridging the self–other divide, it stresses that self-reflection lies at the heart of a true “dialogic spirit,” which urges the self to recognize its own shortcomings by learning from the other's point of view. By embracing the dialogic spirit and self-reflection, therefore, national IR can distance itself from exceptionalist claims that the “national self” is intrinsically superior to others and so its preferences and interests must outweigh those of the latter. Applying this framework to the nascent Chinese IR theory, this study finds that its leading exponents do try to avoid identifying with such exceptionalist claims, though the complications of their work further illustrate the promise and difficulty of self-reflection in the shadow of rising power.
Este estudio propone un marco analítico para explicar de qué manera las relaciones internacionales nacionales pueden controlar el excepcionalismo y unirse a las RI globales para promover el entendimiento común. Con base en la premisa de que el diálogo es clave para tender un puente sobre las diferencias del otro yo, enfatiza que la autorreflexión constituye el núcleo de un auténtico “espíritu dialógico,” el cual insta a uno mismo a reconocer sus defectos al aprender del punto de vista de la otra persona. Así, incorporando el espíritu dialógico y la autorreflexión, las RI nacionales pueden distanciarse de las afirmaciones excepcionalistas que sostienen que el “ego nacional” es intrínsecamente superior a otros y, por lo tanto, sus preferencias e intereses deben ser mayores que las de los segundos. Al aplicar este marco a la teoría emergente de RI de China, este estudio descubre que sus exponentes principales intentan evitar identificarse con tales afirmaciones excepcionalistas, aunque las complicaciones de sus trabajos ilustran aún más la promesa y la dificultad de la autorreflexión a la sombra del poder creciente.
Cette étude propose un cadre analytique pour expliquer comment les relations internationales peuvent se tenir à distance de l'exceptionnalisme sur le plan national tout en se joignant aux relations internationales mondiales pour promouvoir une compréhension commune. Elle s'appuie sur l'hypothèse que le dialogue est la clé pour surmonter la division entre soi et l'autre et insiste sur le fait que la réflexion sur soi est au cœur du véritable « esprit du dialogue », qui pousse le soi à reconnaître ses propres défauts en apprenant du point de vue de l'autre. En adoptant l'esprit du dialogue et la réflexion sur soi au niveau national, les relations internationales peuvent se distancer des revendications exceptionnalistes qui prétendent que le « soi national » est intrinsèquement supérieur aux autres et que ses préférences et intérêts doivent donc l'emporter sur les préférences et intérêts des autres. Cette étude applique ce cadre analytique à la théorie chinoise naissante des relations internationales et constate que ses principaux représentants tentent d’éviter de s'identifier à de telles revendications exceptionnalistes, bien que les complications de leur travail illustrent bien davantage la promesse et la difficulté de la réflexion sur soi dans l'ombre de la puissance montante.
national IR, exceptionalism, self-reflection, Palabras clave, RI nacionales, excepcionalismo, autorreflexión, Mots clés, Relations internationales au niveau national, exceptionnalisme, réflexion sur soi
© The Author(s) (2021). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association.
This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (​​)

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