The Small Powers in World Politics

Contours of an African-Asian Critical Realism

In: African and Asian Studies
Pak Nung Wong Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong, China

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George Klay Kieh Jr. Department of Political Science and Planning, University of West Georgia GA USA

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This paper aims to conceptualize a framework for better understanding the challenges, actions and rationales of the African and Asian small powers in the post-1989 global order. The paper will be divided into three parts. First, it will review the literature on small power/state studies. Second, following a critique of the major approaches in small power studies, we will argue for the need for a critical realist perspective to better capture the relationships between domestic politics and foreign relations of the small power in Africa and Asia. Third, against the comparative trajectories in which the u.s. has attained global hegemony after 1991 and China has gradually become a great power after 2000, in light of the recent u.s. containment policy shift towards China which has stirred up versatile dynamics of East Asian small power politics, in favor of a global multi-polarity, we will highlight the foundation of our approach for building the strong small powers in terms of two main aspects of economic nationalism: resource-focused and sovereignty-asserting.

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