Dr Ayşe Zarakol is a CRASSH Early Career Fellow in Easter Term 2016
Waiting for the Barbarians: Constructions of “Rising Powers” in World Politics
I am currently working on my second solo book project, provisionally entitled ‘Waiting for the Barbarians: Great Powers and Future Visions in World Politics’. This project aims to compare across world history various ‘great power’ perceptions of potential rivals as well as concerns about decline and to assess the accuracy of such perceptions in understanding systemic conditions. The project has a secondary goal of using these historical comparisons to evaluate the quality of the views about 'rising powers' that characterise current policy thinking in the United States as the contemporary great power.
The research, which builds on surveys of secondary sources from relevant disciplines, thus draws upon four polities whose positions in the system of their time resemble that of the United States now in terms of hegemonic power/unipolarity, though each polity also represents a different political era and sovereignty configuration. These polities are Ancient Egypt, Rome, the Ottoman Empire, and the British Empire. The aim is to discern how decision makers in each case understood/imagined the future of the ‘system’ as well as the 'rise' of their potential rivals. For each case, I am interested in to what extent the decision-makers in these polities were able to understand and shape the environment they are in. I also plan to use my findings to discuss how the understandings of the 'international system’ (or the external environment of polities more broadly defined) have evolved across ages.
Ayşe Zarakol is a University Lecturer in International Relations at POLIS and an official Fellow in Politics at Emmanuel College. She is also affiliated with the University of Cambridge Centre for Rising Powers as a Senior Research Associate. Prior to Cambridge, she was an Assistant Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University in USA and a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Washington, DC.
Zarakol’s research, which is at the intersection of IR and historical sociology, focuses on East-West relations in the international system, problems of modernity and sovereignty, rising and declining powers, and Turkish politics in a comparative perspective. She is the author of After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which deals with international stigmatisation and the integration of defeated non-Western powers (Turkey after WWI, Japan after WWII and Russia after the Cold War) into the international system. Her articles have recently appeared in journals such as International Theory, International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, International Relations, Journal of Democracy and Nationalities Papers. Zarakol’s research has won prizes from the British International Studies Association and Swedish Political Science Association. Zarakol is also a member of and a regular contributor to the PONARS Eurasia international academic network, which advances new policy approaches to research and security in Russia and Eurasia.