Expert Knowledge in Global Trade: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Expert Knowledge in Global Trade

1st Edition

Edited by Erin Hannah, James Scott, Silke Trommer


242 pages

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This book explores tensions in global trade by examining the role of experts in generating, disseminating and legitimating knowledge about the possibilities of trade to work for global development. To this end, contributors assess authoritative claims on knowledge. They also consider structural features that uphold trade experts' monopoly over knowledge, such as expert language and legal and economic expertise. The chapters collectively explore the tensions between actors who seek to effect change and those who work to uphold the status quo, exacerbate asymmetries, and reinforce the dominant narrative of the global trade regime.

The book addresses the following key overarching research questions:

  • Who is considered to be a trade expert and how does one become a knowledge producer in global trade?
  • How do experts acquire, disseminate and legitimate knowledge?
  • What agendas are advanced by expert knowledge?
  • How does the discourse generated within trade expertise serve to close off alternative institutional pathways and modes of thinking?
  • What potential exists for the emergence of more emancipatory global trade policies from contemporary developments in the field of trade expertise?

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of IPE, Trade Politics, International Relations, and International Organizations.


'Expert Knowledge in Global Trade brings together a first-rate group of scholars whose analysis provides valuable insights into the ways in which the ideas of ‘experts’ serve powerful interests and shape outcomes in the global trade regime.' - Jennifer Clapp, University of Waterloo, Canada

'These thought-provoking and diverse essays expose the explicit and subtle ways in which experts have shaped international trade policies to legitimize prevailing orthodoxies and, lately, to challenge them. This excellent volume is a significant contribution to scholarship on the role of ideas, from the commonsensical to the highly technical, in global political economy.' - JP Singh, George Mason University, USA

‘Fresh, original, engaging – this new contribution to the literature on trade governance is genuinely welcome and exciting. The chapters are of the highest quality, written by impressively experienced and knowledgeable authors who really know their stuff. This book will fully deserve the wide attention it will inevitably command.’Nicola Phillips, Professor of Political Economy, University of Sheffield, UK

Table of Contents


Erin Hannah, James Scott, and Silke Trommer

Part I

The language of expert knowledge: the power of discourse, metaphors, and myth-making

1 Talking trade: common sense knowledge in the multilateral trade regime


2 The spectre of Smoot-Hawley and the global trading system: sustaining free trade through the crisis


3 Trade policy communities, expert language, and the dehumanization of world trade


Part II

The substance of expert knowledge: the power of law and econometrics

4 Expertise through experience: inequality and legitimacy in the juridification of international trade disputing


5 Numbers: the role of computable general equilibrium modeling in

legitimizing trade policy


6 The double movement of law and expertise


Part III

The agency of expert knowledge: the power of NGOs and organic intellectuals

7 Symbolic power and social critique in the making of Oxfam’s trade policy research


8 Ratcheting up accountability? Embedded NGOs in the multilateral trade system


9 Southern intellectual leadership in the construction of global trade knowledge


About the Editors

Erin Norma Hannah is Associate Professor at King's University College at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Silke Trommer is University Lecturer in Global Sustainable Development and World Politics at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

James Scott is Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Political Economy at King's College London, UK.

About the Series

Global Institutions

The "Global Institutions Series" is edited by Thomas G. Weiss (The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA) and Rorden Wilkinson (University of Sussex, UK).

The Series has two "streams" identified by their covers:

  • Blue covers offer comprehensive, accessible, and informative guides to the history, structure, and activities of key international organizations, and introductions to topics of key importance in contemporary global governance. Recognized experts use a similar structure to address the general purpose and rationale for specific organizations along with historical developments, membership, structure, decision-making procedures, key functions, and an annotated bibliography and guide to electronic sources.
  • Red covers consist of research monographs and edited collections that advance knowledge about one aspect of global governance; they reflect a wide variety of intellectual orientations, theoretical persuasions, and methodological approaches.

Together these streams provide a coherent and complementary portrait of the problems, prospects, and possibilities confronting global institutions today.

Learn more…

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