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Publication details for Professor Joe Painter

Chaturvedi, S. & Painter, J. (2007). Whose world, whose order? Spatiality, geopolitics and the limits of the world order concept. Cooperation and Conflict 42(4): 375-395.

Author(s) from Durham


This article offers a critical re-examination of the concept of world order. Taking our cue from Georg Sørensen's recent article in this journal entitled `What Kind of World Order?' we begin by unpacking the concept of order itself. We distinguish two principal meanings of the term: one analytical and descriptive (order as non-randomness) and one value-laden and normative (order as stability and the absence of violent conflict). In debates about world order, these two meanings are often blurred. Drawing on William Connolly's critique of the descriptive-normative distinction, we suggest that this blurring occurs in part because world order is an `essentially contested concept'. Practices of ordering typically involve the production of specific spatializations, yet questions of space and spatiality are largely absent from discussions of world order. In the second part of the article, therefore, we address this absence through a discussion of geo-politics, focusing on US hegemony and neo-liberalism, military geographies and the spaces of marginalization and resistance. The article concludes with some reflections on the political implications of a spatialized account of world order.