Northwestern Events Calendar


Racism and Hegemonic Delegitimation: The Sino-American Case

When: Friday, November 17, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:45 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, Room 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Ariel Sowers   (847) 491-7454

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the International Relations Speaker Series as they host Professor Zoltán Búzás, Associate Professor of Global Affairs in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

Throughout the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, the People’s Republic of China had offered sustained criticisms of US racism. Interestingly, it had also employed these condemnations to oppose US hegemony (global dominance). What does this critical discourse reveal about hegemony, legitimacy, and Sino-American relations? This paper offers an account of racism-based criticisms that aim to undermine the legitimacy of hegemons. It positions the norm of racial equality as a key standard of hegemonic legitimacy, and argues that China’s criticisms of US violations of this norm are discursive attempts to delegitimize US hegemony. To show how exactly this happens, the paper samples over 5,000 articles and applies qualitative content analysis to over 1,300 articles published between 2013 and 2022, primarily in English-language Chinese media. The evidence offers a textured understanding of China’s discursive efforts to delegitimize the US. It demonstrates the centrality of racism-based criticism in this discourse, maps its relationship to other criticisms, and highlights specific delegitimation techniques. Overall, the paper aims to show the promise of incorporating race and racism into hegemonic studies in International Relations. 

Prof. Búzás holds a PhD in political science from the Ohio State University. Prior to joining Notre Dame, he was an assistant professor of politics at Drexel University in Philadelphia, an Open Society Fellow, and a visiting scholar at McGill University’s Centre for International Peace and Security Studies. Búzás’s book, Evading International Norms: Race and Rights in the Shadow of Legality, centers on human rights behaviors that are awful but lawful. It examines how states violate human rights norms in the shadow of technical legality—a process Búzás calls norm evasion. Based on a wealth of evidence, including more than 160 interviews, the book shows that the expulsion of Roma immigrants from France and the school segregation of Roma children in the Czech Republic violated the norm of racial equality in a technically legal fashion. 

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