World Politics in Translation: Power, Relationality and Difference in Global Cooperation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

World Politics in Translation

Power, Relationality and Difference in Global Cooperation, 1st Edition

Edited by Tobias Berger, Alejandro Esguerra


236 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-04-23
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Virtually all pertinent issues that the world faces today – such as nuclear proliferation, climate change, the spread of infectious disease and economic globalization – imply objects that move. However, surprisingly little is known about how the actual objects of world politics are constituted, how they move and how they change while moving. This book addresses these questions through the concept of 'translation' – the simultaneous processes of object constitution, transportation and transformation. Translations occur when specific forms of knowledge about the environment, international human rights norms or water policies consolidate, travel and change.

World Politics in Translation conceptualizes 'translation' for International Relations by drawing on theoretical insights from Literary Studies, Postcolonial Scholarship and Science and Technology Studies. The individual chapters explore how the concept of translation opens new perspectives on development cooperation, the diffusion of norms and organizational templates, the performance in and of international organizations or the politics of international security governance.

This book constitutes an excellent resource for students and scholars in the fields of Politics, International Relations, Social Anthropology, Development Studies and Sociology. Combining empirically grounded case studies with methodological reflection and theoretical innovation, the book provides a powerful and productive introduction to world politics in translation.


"Examining the potent role of seemingly mundane objects, instruments, and facts in global politics, this volume makes a key contribution to our understanding of power, expertise and practice in the contemporary world. In these pages, it becomes clear just how powerful the concept of translation can be — enabling the contributors to both map the various ways in which people, objects and ideas can move from one space into another, and to recognize the slippages and tensions that can result." – Jacqueline Best, Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: The Objects of Translation Tobias Berger and Alejandro Esguerra
  2. Part I: Concepts

  3. Good treason. Following actor-network theory to the realm of drug policy Endre Dányi
  4. The travelling concept of organized crime and the stabilization of securitized international cooperation: a translational reading Holger Stritzel
  5. Part II: Instruments

  6. Translating the glucometer – from "Western" markets to Uganda: of glucometer graveyards, missing testing strips and the difficulties of patient care Arlena S. Liggins and Uli Beisel
  7. Rule of Law promotion in translation: Technologies of normative knowledge transfer in South Sudan’s constitution making Katrin Seidel
  8. Part III: Facts

  9. What is wrong with the United Nations? Cynicism and the problem of translating the facts Sebastian Schindler 
  10. Reflexivity, positionality and normativity in the ethnography of policy translation Farhad Mukhtarov
  11. Part IV: Projects

  12. Europe in translation: Governance, integration, and the project Richard Freeman
  13. Translation and the challenges of supranational integration: the common grammar and its dissent Noemi Lendvai-Bainton
  14. Part V: Expertise

  15. Faithful translation? Shifting the boundaries of the religious and the secular in the global climate change debate Katharina Glaab 
  16. Translating for politico-epistemic authority. Comparing food safety agencies in Germany and in the UK Rebecca-Lea Korinek  
  17. Conclusion: Power, Relationality, and Difference Tobias Berger and Alejandro Esguerra

About the Editors

Tobias Berger is Assistant Professor of Transnational Politics of the Global South at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

Alejandro Esguerra is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Global Cooperation Series

The Routledge Global Cooperation series develops innovative approaches to understanding, explaining and answering one of the most pressing questions of our time – how can cooperation in a culturally diverse world of nine billion people succeed?

We are rapidly approaching our planet’s limits, with trends such as advancing climate change and the destruction of biological diversity jeopardising our natural life support systems. Accelerated globalisation processes lead to an ever growing interconnectedness of markets, states, societies, and individuals. Many of today's problems cannot be solved by nation states alone. Intensified cooperation at the local, national, international, and global level is needed to tackle current and looming global crises.

This interdisciplinary series welcomes proposals from a wide range of disciplines such as international relations and global governance, environment and sustainability, development studies, international law, history, political theory or economy which develop theoretical, analytical, and normative approaches concerning pressing global cooperation questions. We favour books that take an interdisciplinary approach and appeal to an international readership comprised of scholars and postgraduate students.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (

Tobias Debiel, Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner are Co-Directors of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Their research areas are, among others, Global Governance, Climate Change, Peacebuilding and Cultural Diversity of Global Citizenship. The three Co-Directors are, at the same time, based in their home institutions, which participate in the Centre, namely the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE, Messner) in Bonn, the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF, Debiel) in Duisburg and The Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI, Leggewie) in Essen.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General