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With the end of the Cold War has come a remarkable elaboration of international expertise in such fields as arts and historical preservation, communications, conflict resolution, constitutional reform, crime, debt management, deforestation, emerging markets, global warming, ethnic minorities, health, human rights (including the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples), nutrition, pollution, refugees and migration, violence, water resources, wildlife conservation and worker safety.
Moving effortlessly, it would seem, across national borders, with a distance from the claims of older ideologies, international expertise today is challenging as well as altering long-standing concepts of sovereignty and non-interference.
International expertise evokes communitarian values and goals through the motivation and enforcement of international standards. It is an expertise that straddles fields of activism, scholarship, and governmental activity, while often generating its own institutions and protocols. Especially, from the mid-1980s, new formations of expertise have unfolded outside the academy, developing within non-governmental and non-university organizations. Consulting firms, philanthropic organizations and advocacy groups have become major information gathering (as well as interpreting) agencies; have gained a purchase on formal policy-making; are reshaping the ways in which Americans and others address the wider world; and are constituting a new economy of expertise.
Such expertise is coming to constitute itself as an international civil society with common approaches to local, regional and global issues; shared languages of discussion; and comparable institutions shaping the constructions of knowledge and the productions of practice. While claiming global addresses, these epistemic communities of experts are yet thickly involved in tensions and conflicts among local, national and professional values and interests.
The International Institute's May Seminar on International Expertise-May 3-10, 2001-examined international practice in such fields as financial reform, global warming and human rights, with attention to several aspects of the process of constitution of international expertise.
Reframing International Expertise: An Analytical Aside
The study of international expertise invites an aggregative approach, that is, we can discern distinctive arrays of international expertise claiming common-one might say universal-language and values, observing similar protocols and expressing like grounds of authority. In this analytical mode, one sees the historical unfolding of an emergent international episteme, significant shifts in the terms of sovereignty, the development of new transnational regimes of influence and the constitution of new relational circuits among experts, local actors and intermediaries. We can see the affiliations among discrete frames of expertise and expert practice, "treaties," coalitions and hierarchies of differing but interrelated fields of practice. We are also alerted to the actual and prospective work of anti-politics in the operations and figurations of international expertise, in its formulations as science, as global or international, as neutral or independent, as technical, or as privileged by moral and humane values.
Students of expertise are led through this aggregative analysis to observe what is perhaps a very significant transition in the organization of power and influence in the world. With this understanding of general process, and through essentially constructing a "market" in best practices, we can train others toward what we may see as more effective application of expertise in and on the world, discerning and remarking critical aspects of practice that move beyond specific fields of endeavor.
For those experts engaged in international practice, the comprehension of other frames of expert practice is a learning track, a means to greater influence and success in a global economy of expertise.
Yet, within this aggregative mode, we are producing something of a teleology. In constructing a unified frame of reference with respect to international expertise, we privilege common elements against what are potentially critical distinctions, in one sense participating-through aggregative analysis-in the very construction of a global economy of expertise. We constitute a process, a trend, we figure a sort of starting point-the "end of the Cold War" suggests itself-and we imagine some future configuration, related to what we have seen, or surmised, but also a still more coherent future.
In doing so, however, we may overlook the deeper genealogies of international expertise reaching in some fields back into the eighteenth century or earlier. And in privileging certain elements, as against others, we may miss some of the countervailing features of international expertise, older and continuing, in which expertise claiming international status may be essentially about the conservation of national standards and values, national markets, and national interest: for example, in the arms control field, in the regulation of commodity markets, in the promotion of labor standards. In many circumstances, there may be nothing particularly new or dramatic within the epistemics of international practice. And in historicizing expertise, we might reflect on the ways in which even the formation of national professions of experts and professional expertise-the ascension of "the national" in the claims to scope and authority of experts-was itself a remarkable development against the hold of class or oligarchic interests in the elaboration of expertise.
To move from an aggregative analytic procedure toward a disaggregative analytic mode, we may identify difference, and also recognize the significance of difference, among the several discrete fields of international expertise. For example, emerging markets expertise sustains the rubric of the national unit as the unit of analysis, while encouraging new and powerful frames of expertise. Conversely, expertise directed toward the environment transcends the boundedness of the national unit to recognize forces and conditions that are regional or global, yet may do so on the basis of well established scientific knowledge. While emerging markets expertise seems capable of functioning only by the logic of national units, environmental expertise is predicated on a logic of the world beyond the registry of nations. Again, in respect to the frame of reference of the nation, expertise directed toward the reform of electoral systems must not only work within a national framework but also within the legal and constitutional frameworks of a national government. By contrast, human rights expertise typically works against the existing legal and constitutional frameworks of national governments.
|Emerging Markets Expertise||Environmental Expertise|
|Electoral Expertise||Human Rights Expertise|
In another way, emerging markets and environmental expertise place value on the ideals of natural systems to which human societies are subject, while electoral and human rights expertise stress the responsibilities of humans to build systems to protect and enlarge the space of individual possibility.
To extend and complicate further this comparison of just these four fields of international expertise, emerging markets expertise and electoral expertise draw power from the concentration of privileged knowledge at a source, on the distinction between the sites of expertise and the objects of expert practice. They are predicated on the absence of locally constituted expertise, on the reduction of possibility toward a narrow set of frames of reference and on an iterative model of transition of whole nations from one order to another. Such expertise is not generally involved in the imposition of standards, and there is hardly any circumstance where negotiation with divergent local forces and interests is required. Yet emerging markets and human rights expertise may press the constitution of new international structures to regulate national states and national institutions, or to move national practices towards uniform global standards.
Emerging markets and electoral expertise may press standards irrespective of local particularities. On the other hand, environmental expertise and human rights expertise constantly and explicitly face the realities that locally constructed discourses do matter, that the negotiations of and with the local are constitutive of outcomes, that imposition is always an issue and that the balances in terms of negotiation are always critical. Moreover, changes, while iterative, are not sequenced around models of national transition.
In a different vein, we see emerging markets and environmental expertise configured around the recognition of only partially understood complex systems, while electoral and human rights expertise are marshaled around a normative discourse relating to the powers of states and to the capacity to control. At the same time, environmental expertise and human rights expertise are configured around, and to an extent underwritten by, global social movements, while emerging markets and electoral expertise are configured around and underwritten by consultative markets. To reform systems, environmental and human rights expertise must press into public view and debate the challenges presented by specific local conditions, while emerging markets and electoral expertise may induce change in local conditions and practices through far more discrete discussion of the challenges at hand.
The comparison here begins as an analytical move, but it at the same time is intended to recognize the thick, tendentious differences that mark the practices of international expertise, that complicate notions of common ground. Here it is less important to achieve an absolutely settled characterization of a field of international practice than to suggest in a rough and preliminary way some of the differentiating features or varied specifications of expertise in its international formulation and elaboration.
One could elaborate such a comparison through the introduction of additional fields of expertise; one could introduce additional variables-for example, the different "optics" through which experts discover and comprehend specific spaces of practice-and also revise and debate the specific interpretations. The point is to begin to graph variation across aggregative and integrative models, to question the ease with which it is possible to speak generally of unfolding global expertise, to test some of the epistemic assumptions that run through different folds of what is referred to as a globalization process, and to discern less well marked programs and processes that seem to complicate the general models.
Position Paper Responses
Journalism: Hidden Scripts of National InterestMichael Bromley, 2000-2001 Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism
Journalism's indeterminate status, and ambivalent relationships to governance position it specifically in relation to ideas of international expertise. Its implication in processes of democratization and marketization since at least the eighteenth century ties it closely to the emergence of the liberal, capitalist nation-state; its parallel associations with progressivism posit it as an agent of change; its quasi-professionalizing tendencies link it to organizational, licensing, educational, membership and codification practices with distinctive nation-state dimensions; and its linguistic and technological dependencies and usages arise out of, and reinforce, national and state interests.
Thus, on the one hand, journalism may be viewed as a vital component element in a ‘free press' policy which has been increasingly transferred from liberal nation-state democracies of the North (as in the ‘independent media' preconditions attached to aid) and in processes of penetration (exemplified in the conditions for membership of IGOs, such as the Council of Europe).
The central paradox of the ‘free press' position (that journalism is idealized as independent of states because of its ‘truth-telling' imperative) is regularly dealt with by mobilizing what might be called ‘democratic intermediaries' in policy transfer and penetration. These include public service media (such as the BBC), education, business and occupational bodies, such as trade unions.
Nevertheless, journalism as a discursive community made up of informal (peer) networks may construe ‘expertise' primarily in terms of the experiential social learning of know-how—learning how to be a journalist. This is reliant less on organization and compliance (measured in terms of diffusion) than on voluntary participation and the establishment of social and cultural credit.
A set of questions arises as to whether this represents a circumvention of the ‘scripts of national interest'; if such journalism ‘experts' are transactors, and if so, how are issues of representativeness and accountability resolved; what influence, if any, the structures of networks exert on the idea of ‘expertise'; and what is the social content of ‘expertise,' and how is it validated?
Epistemic Communities and the Commodification of ExpertiseJason Finkle, Population Planning & International Health; Grace Davie, History; Monica Patterson, Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History
An “epistemic community” has been defined by Peter Haas (1992) as a network of professionals with recognized expertise and competence in a particular domain and an authoritative claim to policy-relevant knowledge within that domain or issue-area. According to Haas, epistemic communities are not only communities of scientists with shared faith in the scientific method, but they can also be communities of people with diverse interpretations of ambiguous data, bonded together by “their shared belief or faith in the verity and applicability of particular forms of knowledge or specific truths.” Epistemic communities, defined by Haas, also have a common policy goal, usually that their professional competence will be directed towards the enhancement of human welfare.
Starting from this definition of epistemic communities, we would like to provoke the seminar to consider the range of ways in which epistemic communities carry out their work in relation to politics, ideology and the world around them. We want to ask: Who participates in epistemic communities? How do these communities emerge and by what rules and codes do they take shape? How do they find common ground? And, despite shared practices, beliefs, methods, goals and criteria for weighing and validating knowledge, how do communities become inspired or sidetracked by particular interest groups from ‘outside' or by particular biases and assumptions from ‘inside.' Is it only trained, experienced elites who make up expert communities, or is it sometimes fruitful to view other types of people as constituting an epistemic community?
Population specialists offer a particularly revealing example of an epistemic community. In the early 1960s, the U.S. government ‘discovered' population, family planning took off as a cause, foundations blossomed, NGOs promoted and capitalized on the notion that civil society could replace the work of governments, population conferences became increasingly frequent, and population experts began to develop a common language between themselves. Jason Finkle points out that, between the 1960s and 1990s, the “population community” grew in number, diversity and scientific knowledge, and in so doing became less, rather than more , an epistemic community as described by Haas. Instead of evolving into a community that shared expertise and a common outlook or vision, it became more pluralistic and diverse. This latter trend was, in part, by design, but more significantly an inevitable consequence of the centrality of population to development.
But all these complexities are also historically constituted. How do expert designations of social phenomena or conditions, for example “poverty,” change over time and how does competition between different political interests inform those changes? What roles do intermediaries play in expert attempts to craft “disinterested” objective knowledge out of messy interactions with informants? And, can one detect recursive dynamics between experts and the people who are the object of expert knowledge? In other words, how does expertise exceed the boundaries of epistemic communities in ways similar to what Ian Hacking has called ‘looping'? How do expert identifications get informed and altered by non-experts and their tastes? And how do expert identifications alter people's views of the world and themselves?
In trying to link these questions about communities of expertise to questions about the commodification of expertise, we are asking: how do politics and power play a role in the ways in which epistemic communities produce and market expertise? How do experts construct knowledge in relationship to the constraints and possibilities of specific historical conjunctures in which expert knowledge may have to compete in a field already thick with existing meanings, knowledges, designations and alternatives? And how do intellectual and ideological movements change the marketplace and consumers?
Some Thoughts on “Communities of Experts”Daniel Rothenberg, Anthropology, Michigan Society of Fellows
Woven into the complex and seemingly inevitable social, economic and political shifts known as globalization is an increasing dependence upon various forms of international expertise and the control and management of such services by an array of experts. The special status of experts as agents, managers, analysts and planners of global change is a central component of various evolving and expanding systems of transnational activity.
While international expertise has multiple meanings, understanding its social implications requires a consideration of the ways in which professionals define themselves through their membership and participation within communities of experts. Since universities play a key role in the construction and legitimation of expertise and the creation of experts, it seems especially appropriate to consider these issues from within academia.
The term community suggests a sense of common understanding, a bond that stretches beyond the procedural or the merely professional. Unlike a club, association, or political party, membership within a community references a shared set of values and beliefs that are validated, strengthened and enunciated through the interaction of its members. In this sense, a community derives its structuring power from the participation and engagement of members through actions that are both consciously created to produce the community as well those that bind individuals together in ways that are less controlled, purposeful and self-aware.
The idea of community is linked to the concept of identity in that participation in a community serves to define and structure one's sense of self and place within the world. One might argue that in contemporary society individuals need communities precisely because the power of such membership is distinct from participation in other systems of social order. Communities powerfully affirm basic values and understanding, linking thought to action in ways that express and respond to deepest of human needs. To the degree that the identities of global professionals are not strongly bound to specific localities, international communities of experts might help define new forms of identity that are uniquely translocal.
Perhaps what is most striking about the idea of communities of experts is that such organizations are created through processes that emphasize individuals' successful control over their lives. By definition, communities of experts deny entry to all but a select number of individuals who understand their membership as an expression of a fundamental freedom to create one's life through professional accomplishment. In this sense, a community of experts is markedly distinct from the traditional understanding of a community as a social world one is born into, a foundational cultural position that defines one's identity outside of the realm of choice and control.
Understanding communities of experts—as opposed to, for example, professional organizations—requires an inquiry into how feelings of affirmative unified identity among members are produced and how such social processes impact upon the nature of expertise. To be an expert is to possess a special skill, ability, or knowledge linked to particular abilities of acting within and upon the world. In this way, the ideal model of an expert is a technician whose special powers bear a clear and unproblematic relationship to solving a problem. However, in the world of international experts—whether economists, consultants, scholars of a certain regional or issue—the nature of expertise is complex such that the value produced is not always open to objective measurement. As such, a key element of the establishment of communities of experts involves the production of legitimacy that often denies the constructed, shifting and fundamentally uncertain ground of expertise itself.
In this way, communities of experts are entwined in a complicated discourse of control—both personal and professional—that serves to determine conditions of membership while also defining the value of potential interventions. Experts understand themselves as having realized their expertise through training and experience (often involving advanced university education and degrees) through individual control over one's own life. Similarly, expertise defines itself through the power to realize desired changes in the world, to control things in an ordered fashion premised upon the special knowledge that is expertise.
Still, to the degree that experts are defined through social processes that are constantly changing and their expertise is similarly a function of conditions that continually vary, the idea of control may well be more fragile than the system allows. Certainly, this seems apparent when one looks back upon expert opinions that justified past failures of social planning of almost any type, whether in economics, medicine, public policy or politics. Underlying every instance of expertise is a nagging sense that the expected outcome will not be realized.
Perhaps one of the central reasons we are drawn to discussing communities of experts today is that, like all true communities, these social organizations hold the key to understanding the moral foundations of our world, both in our need to control and our fear that we may fail.
Thinking about Globalization, the Role of Expert and Social PolicyMariely López-Santana, Doctoral Student, Political Science
Welfare states, specifically the provision of social policy to citizens, have been directly associated with the nation-state. Until recently, the answer to the question of which entity is responsible for the well being of citizens was (more or less) clear: the state is responsible for providing, on some way or another, for citizens. Globalization, especially in terms of increased labor and capital mobility and expansion of international trade, has impacted the way nation-states are organized in many Western countries, including the way ‘social policy' is being discussed by a community of experts. There has been discussion about what is to be done to make globalization socially responsible. For example, the European Union has created a “Social Protocol.” This agreement contains a number of provisions on direct cooperation between European member states on social and labor market policy. However, we must take into consideration the role of experts in the process of social policy creation. Social policy experts have been getting together to create networks to discuss the topic, and to propose policy that is ‘socially responsible' and labor conscious. These networks have transcended the boundaries of the nation state, and have become global policy networks. Thus, the linkages between the international and domestic policy arenas have taken the form of global ideological and discursive influences.
For example, we find the director of the “Globalism and Social Program” (GASPP) writing a booklet called “Socially Responsible Globalization: A Challenge for the European Union” for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland. This publication coincided with the Finnish Presidency of the EU (second half of 1999). This is ‘knowledge' produced by experts for a country that is considered an exemplary welfare state and social democracy. What might be the hidden script of this country? Is this a way of developing a social protocol at the EU level that looks as the Finnish case? Is this reality transferable, for example, to Portugal, Spain, Greece or Italy? This example illustrates how could we think about the following questions:
How should we think about ‘non-state knowledge actors'?
It could be argued that these experts are especially interested in ‘lesson-drawing' and could be regarded as ‘policy and intellectual transfer entrepreneurs.' Thus, experts (considered non-state actors) carry, export and induce policy ideas from “out-of state boundaries” (NGOs, “think-tanks, consultancy, foundations, academics, etc.) to states and regional institutions/organizations, and vice-versa. Moreover, experts could be seen as establishers, perpetuators and renovators of international regimes or “the rules of the game.” Experts assist states, regional/international organizations and NGOs in the creation and establishment of “what is acceptable” at the domestic and international level.
If we think about experts as providing ‘intellectual goods' and knowledge to states, regional and international organizations, what could be the tensions between the nation-state and international experts?
As we think about the past, more questions come to mind. First, who are the experts? Where do they come from? We should think here about Western bias. Are these ‘intellectual goods' understandable and viable in all domestic and/or regional settings? How does the nation state deal with pressures of ‘global understandings'?
Finally, if knowledge is socially constructed, as numerous social and cultural theorists have argued, how do states react to the ‘international expertise'?
This concern is especially true for countries that do not fit the standards of what is acceptable by these networks of experts. Should all states react in the same way to the intervention of experts in their ‘reality' (political, economic, cultural, etc.), even if it is a democracy, autocracy, industrialized, Newly- Industrialized or not-industrialized?
More attention should be paid in the social sciences to the role of international experts. In political science, for instance, scholars who study the international system mostly focus on the nation-state, regional and international organizations/institutions (governmental and non-governmental) and MNCs as the actors of the international system. Then, what about these networks of experts that highly influence domestics and international arenas by creating, shaping and establishing policy? Experts, as domestic and international actors, have the tools and the spaces to set domestic and international agendas. As researchers, we should study these actors. As teachers and professors, we should underline their importance in the classroom.
A Few Tendentious Theses on International ExpertiseDavid M. Trubek, Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Director, University of Wisconsin-Madison International Institute
1) International experts usually work in national settings and seek to change national conditions.
2) Part of the “expertise” that international experts deploy is knowledge about how to change national conditions to fit international requirements or standards.
3) International standards will favor some national groups over others and thus international expertise is a weapon that will be deployed in national struggles for power.
4) The struggle for power may occur in part within national professional arenas as internationally oriented experts within national arenas vie with those rooted in domestic practices and discourses.
5) It is a mistake to envision some pure international sphere from which international expertise emerges and in which it is deployed. Almost all the arenas in which so-called international experts operate are really systems of “multi-level” governance affecting and affected by the local, national, supranational regional and/or global levels.
6) International experts may project the idea that they speak for higher values just as lawyers speak in the name of “the law.” But there is always a client, even if that client is a supposedly neutral and altruistic international organization.
7) There is a real tension inherent in the creation and application of international expertise. To give these bodies of expertise authority and reach, the knowledge must appear to be neutral, universal and enduring. But this expertise will affect different groups in different ways and its effective application may demand attention to diversity and flexibility.
8) If international experts stay too close to the idea of the fixed and universal, they may fail to carry out effective change. If they openly admit that change will not benefit all in a society, if they accept the need to deviate from universal recipes, or if they show they are willing to bend their standards, they may lose authority.
9) The really skilled international expert has to be a bit of a con man (or woman) speaking in the name of universal and unchanging standards that benefit all while cutting deals that vary from the universal recipe and work to someone's advantage.
The Expertise of ExperienceMonica Eileen Patterson, Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History
Who qualifies as an expert and what expertise should be followed are rarely, if ever, points of consensus. Second, third, and fourth opinions are easy to come by despite experts' attempts to establish themselves in positions of influence that are beyond reproach. Successful experts maintain, defend, and exclude others from the authority they seek to construct, and selectively translate their knowledge for others' benefit.
With the increase of violent conflicts premised on intolerance of difference, post-authoritarian societies have relied upon experts of various ilks to develop new and more sophisticated mechanisms for acknowledging and addressing past wrongs. Experts on constitutional reform, international human rights, refugees, emerging markets, and healthcare (among others) have carved out particular gambits of expertise in cooperation and competition with one another. The recent proliferation of “victim” testimony has been an influential force in policy making, international law, journalism, and the work of NGOs. Survivors of trauma and mass violence are increasingly insisting upon the legitimacy and even ultimate authority of their particular ways of knowing, posing a unique challenge to more traditionally constituted forms of authority that have centered around training, accreditation, and access to resources and positions of influence and power.
Within the context of South Africa's complex processes of social and political transformation, trauma survivors are encroaching on the exclusivity and power of “expert” analysis. Rejecting the term “victim” for its pathologizing implications, many have called into question the vocabulary utilized by experts. They have also contested the recommendations of government officials, artists, architects, and urban planners concerning new and old monuments and memorials. Within and surrounding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, some have challenged government policy on reparations and reconciliation, the TRC's process of confronting apartheid and its legacy, and the psychoanalytic models that have been used to treat those traumatized by violence. The Khulamani Support Group, a drama group that includes both professional actors and survivors of human rights violations was started by some trauma survivors as an alternative or addition to testifying in the TRC. They were unsatisfied with the experts' models of healing offered within this formal political process.
In South Africa especially, many of these experiential experts have been trained, formally educated, appointed, and assimilated into established realms of expertise, enabling them to integrate different ways of knowing into strategic networks of other more traditionally recognized experts. There also are those who reject the need for credentials other than their own knowledge derived from experience.
Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu is an experiential expert who successfully utilized her claimed experiences as a Mayan woman and genocide survivor to become recognized as an international authority on indigenous peoples' rights. Like other experts, she represented and worked for the interests of certain groups by affecting laws and policy, raising funds, organizing resources, networking with other experts, and translating her knowledge to others. She established a foundation to fight for indigenous people's rights and acted as an expert on the civil war in Guatemala at a time when few people outside of the country knew about it. Further, she brought charges against three former presidents, two ex-generals, two police chiefs, and one former Minister of the Interior for genocide, terrorism, and torture. Although the authenticity of her experiences came to be questioned, Menchu was able to function and influence like an expert.
Survivors are not only more emotionally invested on a personal level than removed experts, they also are able to intellectualize and analyze their experiences, translating them to others just as experts in other fields do. At the same time, while experts are often engaged in the translation of knowledge into a variety of contexts, their work is also marked by purposeful obfuscation, opacity, and mystification. Within the act of translation, strategic decisions are made about what to leave incomprehensible and what to render understandable to others for the purposes of bolstering the exclusivity of their spheres of influence. The very notion of expertise is premised on exclusion. Experiential experts can strategically argue for the impregnable monopoly that they hold over their own experiences and effectively insist on the authority and exceptionalness of their position.
Experiences of trauma do not necessarily make one into an expert, just as training or certification is not necessarily sufficient. Becoming an expert involves self-positioning, the use and application of one's training and experience, networking with other experts and domains of expertise, and being accepted as an expert. It is arguable that experts have the most power when their authority is assumed and doesn't have to be stated. The distinction between experts and laypersons, training and experiential knowledge is often very murky. This is not to say that everything is so relative that experts no longer hold particular monopolies over certain positions of power, but that these powers must be recognized as unfixed and in a constant state of negotiation and production. Laying claim to their exclusive right over the experiential knowledge that lies beyond what is accessible through textbooks or training, experiential experts are changing the rules of the game and challenging the authority of their more widely recognized counterparts.
A Reprise for SovereigntyJosé Raúl Perales, Doctoral Candidate, Political Science
“I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope. But now I want to be the bond market: you can intimidate everybody.”
James Carville, former electoral adviser to Bill Clinton 
Analysts and observers of the globalization of the world economy typically claim that international expertise is challenging the sovereignty of the nation-state, as witnessed by the ever-increasing conflict between governmental authority and the transnational principles and practices espoused by international experts. The argumentative logic behind these claims is that the currency of principled ideas and beliefs constitutes a shared code of political conduct that transgresses national boundaries and impinges upon traditional areas where the ultimate source of interpretation of the “law” used to be national governmental authorities. In human rights, for instance, the principle of “crimes against humanity” has gained precedence over established notions such as “ruler as sovereign,” unaccountable for his or her behavior while in power, and raison d'etat. In matters of economic, political, and judicial reform, the “need for success” and the relative scarcity of technical knowledge in many parts of the world have prompted the adoption of fixed foreign prescriptions that often seem disjointed from national solutions to such challenges. In both cases, the terms through which principles and practices have gained global prominence have been set by a group of experts whose knowledge and authority somehow sets them apart from the interests and positions of national governments.
While the importance of international expertise is not new, contemporary views about it involve an underlying assumption of a “states vs. experts” confrontation. International expertise is now regarded as part of a process of globalization that, according to observers, lies beyond the control of traditional jurisdictions and actors in the international system. The nation-state is seemingly helpless against this tide, and must therefore adapt to a new environment where “sovereign” decisions may be challenged on the basis of transnational principles.
Is this true? Much of the answer depends on our understanding of sovereignty, especially if one believes that this feature of the modern nation-state is inflexible and immutable. The concept of “sovereignty” describes a set of rules, roles and identities that range from the judicial recognition of states to matters of domestic authority and control (in the Weberian sense). Some of these areas, especially domestic authority, have always been subject to some type of challenge based on individual interpretations and organized action. These challenges have not led to a breakdown of state sovereignty, but rather to a renegotiation of some of the terms through which it is exercised. It is for this reason that sovereignty has persisted as a principle of world politics for several centuries. Does international expertise, as we now define it, really “violate” or “trespass” sovereignty, or is it merely a re-articulation of an already porous relationship between power, ideas and jurisdictions?
The process through which international expertise becomes established and validated involves a bargaining dynamic between individuals (government officials, on one side, and experts on the other) that may not necessarily be a zero-sum game, but rather an interdependent relationship involving multiple outcomes. Political leaders rarely behave as complacent puppets subject to trends and influences they will not try to mediate, regardless of their policy predicament or of the institutional capabilities of the governments they preside. In this sense they may retain an important veto power over experts, who, ironically, need the sovereign state system to validate their claims to authority and knowledge. By the same token, international expertise may provide leaders with an opportunity for implementing unpopular policies, for obtaining access to material resources, or for accumulating political capital by projecting an image of cooperation with the international community (the recent extradition of Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague being a case in point).
Rather than seeking dichotomous answers to this question, our understanding of the effects of globalization and international expertise on sovereignty requires closer attention to how issues of power and bargaining affect definitions and exercises of sovereignty. While it is true that we are witnessing a historical moment concerning matters such as national jurisdictions, state authority and international law, premature reports about the end of sovereignty are not the best answer to these challenges.
“The king is dead, long live the king.”
“Expertise may be thought of as. . .”
Throughout the week-long seminar, participants attempted to define, frame and reflect on the nature, character and work of international expertise and experts. The following are approximate representations of some of these points. They do not represent or reflect a consensus; some points are in contest with others. Yet they indicate the range of arguments tabled in the discussions.
- Expertise may be thought of as “knowledge plus value”; within this are the questions of what constitutes value, for whom, and for what purpose; and what constitutes value may be contextual as well as negotiated within a process.
- But expertise may also be thought of as “knowledge plus status.”
- Expertise by its nature is always in a relational dynamics between the one who presents or professes expertise and the audience/s for such presentation.
- Expertise as a form of knowledge, and as practice, may be understood in terms of its situation in a market.
- Expertise emerges and is reproduced within systems of sanctions and subsidies that both constrain and underwrite expertise.
- Expertise may have some of the characteristics and ambiguities of property, in the sense of claims to ownership and also the contests that often attach to such claims.
- Expertise, as knowledge and practice, develops through, in, competition.
- Expertise may be seen in its propensity to expand, that is, to defend its position and authority through expansion. Experts are territorial.
- At particular moments, expertise educes authority through the ideological figurations, via claims and assignments by different players, of universal, global, international, and local valences.
- Expertise toggles between grounding in universal principles and claims and claims to situated knowledge and particular applicability.
- The professions (in multiple senses of that word) of expertise involve the production of legitimating rhetorics along a continuum of experiential to abstract framings of knowledge.
- Through markets, sanctions and subsidies, expertise tends toward linkage or association with large-scale organizations.
- Expertise plays itself out on, and draws upon, the social and political fissures within the nation, as well as among nations, organizations and interested parties.
- Epistemologies that may underwrite the logic of expertise may form “at the borderland,” in contests over the range, influence and authority of the expert.
- Markets in expertise may involve the projection of a multiplicity of solutions in search of a problem, including the reach to power to define the problem.
- “New” and “old” may be characteristics and claims (negative and positive) associated with expertise.
- Rules of expertise may be seen to be produced within “the game.”
- There are historical moments and watersheds in the organization and reconfiguration of structures and programs of expertise.
- Expertise may construct itself through power conflicts within national arenas as domestically oriented professionals contest for centrality or priority with those who claim an international or global orientation.
- Time, in the sense of the speed-up in paradigm shifts, forces the segmentation, if not also the shake-out, of the “players” in expertise markets.
- Markets in expertise may privilege technical characteristics, pushing out political questions, constituting through practice something of an “anti-politics machine,” forcing interests to be exercised in frames and languages other than political.
- The reach for “the global” may hide the political and mask the process of translation of particular national values and interests into “the global.”
- Expertise may claim its venue, project its program, in a dialectics with a problem-focus or solution-focus.
- Expertise does not stay put. Once articulated or applied, expertise may be addressed in diverse way by different social actors.
- Expertise may work or operate as “currency,” with characteristics of transferability, with the construction and reproduction of exchange relations among otherwise disconnected players, with players not having to attend to, or recognize, the complex and variegated interests of different players.
- International expertise may attach itself to supposedly universal values and to the authority derived from science or the professions; but there is at the same time always “a client.”
- There is something of an unfolding, expanding, economy in international expertise, integrating additional domains or fields through global expansion and through the combination of different disciplines or specialities, and through the vertical integration of discretely organized segments of practice.
- The North American university may be a viable competitor in certain fields of international expertise, while may be ineffective in others.
- To the extent that leaders of North American universities may question the values of expert practice on the mission of the university, international expertise will find more effective footing in organizations and structures outside the academy.
- New markets for flexible, problem-solving forms of expertise have emerged, against which more “traditional” players cannot effectively compete.
- The question of success and failure in the practice of international expertise may not be as important as how ideas of success and failure are managed, how experts and clients negotiate the terms of success and renegotiate the terms of failure.
- There is a performativity in the practice of expertise, with values associated with acting like, or being like, “an expert.”
- The messy processes through which expertise is developed or unfolds often gets erased, silenced, or retrospectively remade as experts and clients seek to construct useable or progressive accounts of their own authority.
- Markets for knowledge goods, for expertise, may be difficult to figure, difficult to operate.
- Expertise may accrue value because it appeals to broad swaths of consumers, or, alternatively, because it becomes so differentiated or specialized as to appeal to narrow sections of clients or consumers.
- The markets in expertise do not involve full access; the mechanisms of regulation may be more political than economic; these markets in expertise may be more symbiotic than competitive.
- Effective purveyors of new forms of expertise may be effective not because of the inherent worth of their specific expertise over other forms of expertise but because they are effective systems-builders.
- Anti-globalization action may mirror international agencies that, in the 80s and 90s, bypassed state organizations, and such action may be the least democratic while claiming identity with popular interests.
- Where international expertise may have been recognizable in terms of programs of intermediation, such expertise, or expert practices, may today be more recognizable in terms of an international division of labor.
- Experts may underwrite their value in terms of universal ideals, independence, and objectivity, they may work in sometimes unacknowledged cohorts, co-producing expertise, not so much through competition as through a mediation of consensus.
- Some individuals may be accorded or even claim the authority of the expert—or claim superior authority—through claims to experience, as in the experience of victims of trauma, yet the professionalization of victimhood (the claims to expertise via the experience of being a victim) may undermine the authority of such claims.
(Prepared by David William Cohen, May 9 and June 3, 2001)
Krasner, Stephen. 1999. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Rosenau, James. 1997. Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Shinoda, Hideaki. 2000. Re-Examining Sovereignty: From Classical Theory to the Global Age. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Sikkink, Kathryn and Margaret Keck. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
GASPP is a research, advisory, education and public information program based jointly at STAKES (National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health), Helsinki, Finland and the Centre for Research on Globalisation and Social Policy, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, England.
By ‘global understandings' I mean the set of norms (what is right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable, moral/immoral, etc.?) that are legitimized and enforced by international organizations and ‘powerful/advanced' states.
I am not arguing that expertise is a unique and uniform reality. Rather, I am referring to a type of knowledge produced by a specific community of individuals with claims to authority based on some type of legally sanctioned privilege.