Critique internationale

Revue comparative de sciences sociales

Couverture Critique Internationale N°66

Critique internationale is a quarterly French-language journal published by Presses de Sciences Po, with the help of the Centre national du livre. A peer-reviewed journal, it has been supported by the Centre de recherches internationales (CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS) since its creation in October 1998.

A comparative social sciences journal, Critique internationale aims to shed light on the social sciences of politics from a comparative and empirical perspective. Articles submitted to the journal must therefore be based upon a detailed knowledge of the area(s) studied, acquired by researchers during localized studies and long-term immersion. At the same time, this approach must be accompanied by a solid grounding in the issue of research in social sciences debates.

The editorial committee is made up of individuals specializing in international issues (including transfer of norms, the transnationalization of collective action and public policy, the role of international organizations and NGOs in numerous crises or in the routine life of the “countries of the South,” and migration) in places (other than France) across all five continents. Anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists, its members come from various institutions (CNRS, IRD, FNSP, EHESS, universities) and vibrant research centers in both France and further afield, where comparative studies and studies on international issues provide a variety of perspectives on the way in which research is conducted today.

At the same time, Critique internationale continues to place particular focus on supporting young researchers in their first publishing and project coordination endeavors, while also ensuring that work produced by foreign colleagues is published in its pages.

Each quarter, a thematic dossier of five or six articles presents several case studies based on a cross-cutting issue. What makes Critique internationale distinctive is that each time, this dossier deals with far removed geographical and cultural entities. Together with the miscellaneous contributions that are published in each issue’s “Varia” section, these thematic studies provide particularly rich material for social scientific comparison. The “Readings” section offers reviews as well as reports on the state of thematic literature, allowing for an assessment of the research in a given field.

The journal accepts articles in English, Spanish, Russian, and German, and provides authors with feedback on their manuscripts in the language in which they submitted them. These manuscripts are then translated into French. Critique internationale also translates articles originally written in French or another language into English. These articles, as well as the entire collection, are available online on the journal portal

ISSN paper 1290-7839

ISSN electronic 1777-554X

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N°77 - Content



No Absract


La convergence des politiques de lutte contre la sélection sexuelle prénatale : Corée du Sud, Inde et Vietnam
Laura Rahm

[The Convergence of Policies to Fight Prenatal Sexual Selection: South Korea, India and Vietnam]
Over the course of the past thirty years, several Asian countries, from Armenia to Vietnam, have witnessed the advent of a sexual imbalance at birth in favor of boys. Despite the social, economic and political diversity of these countries, the governments in question have implemented similar policies against this masculinization of their populations, including legal prohibitions, awareness-raising campaigns and equal rights for girls. The present study explores the role played in the convergence of public policy in South Korea, India and Vietnam by transnational communication and the international harmonization promoted by international organizations and epistemic communities. Under the direction of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), international organizations have played a key role in collecting data and supporting interventions, thereby supplying a more factual basis for policy. There nevertheless exists a tendency to promote and transfer policies without being certain of their effects.

Écrire l’international. Genèses d’une politique de développement transnational, le Plan Puebla Panama
Maya Collombon

[Writing the International: The Origins of the Puebla Panama Plan, a Transnational Development Policy]
In contrast to the overarching perspective sometimes adopted by studies of international development, the present article concentrates on the localized practices underlying it, among other things by advancing the notion that transformations of the national political field are capable of shaping development policies. The case studied here is that of Mexico, where in 2000, after more than 70 years of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) rule, the National Action Party (PAN) came to power. By examining The South Also Exists report – subsequently revised and transformed to become the public policy project known as the Puebla-Panama Plan: Mesoamerican Development Initiatives – one may trace the manner in which development policies are written in the midst of political changeover, a context characterized by support for national political elites and the negotiation of spaces of cooperation with international donors. In so doing, it sheds light on the changing scale of development policies (from regional to transnational) and demonstrates that the particular neoliberal order that results from this is not given in advance but rather gradually constructed prior to being put on the agenda.

Les « communs » à l’épreuve de l’activité minière. Le cas du projet Constancia au Pérou
Claude Le Gouill

[The “Common-Pool Resources” Put to the Test of Mining Activity: The Case of the Constancia Project in Peru]
The present article draws upon the natural resources management model developed by economist Elinor Ostrom to examine the Constancia (Peru) mining project. In particular, it seeks to study local communities’ capacity for decentralized and adaptive management in the framework of the new rhetoric of sustainable mining advanced by the companies. It shall seek to determine in what ways this new mode of regulation allows local communities to provide for their self-organization and thus evaluate their strength in the very hierarchical power relations characteristic of the mining context. At issue here is thus their ability to maintain sovereignty over their territories and manage the “Common-Pool Resources”. To the degree that it allows one to take account of the mediating role played by new professionals in the participatory process institutionalized by the state, moreover, the Peruvian legal framework offers a relevant example for analyzing the relations of these communities with mining companies.

What(ever) works. Les organisations internationales et les usages de « bonnes pratiques » dans l’enseignement supérieur
Dorota Dakowska

[What(ever) Works. International Organizations and the Use of “Best Practices” in Higher Education]
The present article examines the manner in which international organizations that are statutorily active or reputed to be competent in the educational domain construct and disseminate their recommendations in the sector of higher education. These recommendations are diverse. In addition to emphasizing “skills” and “quality assurance” and promoting graduate “employability”, they often underscore “best practices”, which this article critically examines as a paradoxical notion. Since education is among a nation’s formal prerogatives, in principle the recommendations of international organizations are optional, not obligatory. In certain conditions, however, they generate mechanisms that render them compulsory. In practice, recourse to “best practices” reveals itself to be a catchall dispositif mobilized by international organizations for purposes of self-legitimization in order to better assert their authority over a domain in which their power is legally restricted.

Discuter la catégorie d’« État fragile » par l’analyse des politiques publiques : le cas des réformes de l’enseignement supérieur au Burundi
Olivier Provini

[Questioning the “Fragile State” Category via Public Policy Analysis: The Case of Higher Education Reform in Burundi]
The present article draws upon the sociology of public action to examine the “fragile state” category. Two hypotheses (concerning the inflexible transfer of an internationally-constructed reform model is transferred and the absence of civil society actors from the public policy process) are put to the test of two reforms (or attempts at reform) of the higher education sector in Burundi. The first reform consisted in applying the Bachelor-Master-Doctorate model that resulted from the Bologna Process and the second consisted in the elimination of student grants or their replacement with a cost-sharing policy. The results of this study demonstrate the banality of the Burundian state rather than its “fragility”. Particularly in the South, this public action reading of the state offers a heuristic entry point for testing the proliferating array of categories and typologies that relate to the state.

Comprendre la mobilisation financière internationale autour de l’aide à l’adaptation au changement climatique
Romain Weikmans

[Understanding International Financial Mobilization around Climate Change Adaptation Assistance]
This article offers a key to interpreting the international community’s “duty” and forms of intervention vis-à-vis the situations of high-level climate risk experienced by a number of developing countries. It turns out that the recent international mobilization around adaptation assistance corresponds to a shift in the prevailing diagnosis of the climate problem. This shift has a number of implications for the scale and impact of adaptation as a way of responding to climate change, the international community’s duty to intervene in regards to the climate risks facing developing countries and the role of assistance as a tool for supporting adaptation in these countries.

Albert O. Hirschman. Essai de cartographie intellectuelle

[Albert O. Hirschman: Attempt at Intellectual Cartography]
In distancing itself from polemics between orthodox and heterodox economists, the present article offers a rereading of the works of Albert Hirschman on the basis of Adelman’s recently published biography of him (2013). Three main lines are identified: the economy of development, the political history of economic ideas and collective action. However, more than a convergence among these themes, which would have resulted in a project for a new political economy, I discuss their weak articulation and the consequently fragmented character of this body of work. Hirschman’s complex relationship to economic thought – a matter at once of adherence and avoidance – certainly influenced this observation. Hirschman’s most influential contributions have more to do with the conduct of reform and development projects. They are thus alive to the unanticipated consequences of intentional action and the possibility for collective projects in an unpredictable world in which adherence and renegotiation are always threatened by abandonment and opportunism.

Les relations internationales comme champ d’analyse de la pensée politique : Rifâ a Al-Tahtâwî et la genèse d’une modernité alternative en Égypte
Jonathan Viger

[International Relations as an Analytical Field of Political Thought: Rifâ‘a Al-Tahtâwî and the Origins of an Alternative Modernity in Egypt]
This article reconsiders the split that exists between the discipline of international relations and intellectual history in the light of comparative and connected global history, international relations and the “travel” of ideas in translation studies. By looking more closely at the uneven and combined development approach, it seeks to identify the mechanisms that make the international context a particular field of causality in the analysis of political thought. How are geopolitical interactions between various societies perceived by the social actors who experience them? How does this perception affect their personal identification and the definition of their community and account for the importation, appropriation and redefinition of foreign political ideas as well as the production of new meanings. This framework of analysis is developed by studying the political thought of the Egyptian intellectual Rifâ‘a Al-Tahtâwî (1801-1873). The central argument of the article is that the thought of Tahtâwî represents an attempt to construct a project of an other modernity formulated in terms of the geopolitical context of the time, which was marked by the consequences of the Napoleonic invasion, the decline of the position of Ottoman Egypt in the international hierarchy and the rise to power of Muhammad ‘Ali.

Muriel Blaive

Michel Christian, Camarades ou apparatchiks ? Les communistes en RDA et en Tchécoslovaquie, 1945-1989, Paris, PUF, 2016, 400 pages

Samuel Lézé

Caroline Protais, Sous l’emprise de la folie ? L’expertise judiciaire face à la maladie mentale (1950-2009), Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, 2016, 309 page

Nicolas Martin-Breteau

Rogers Brubaker, Grounds for Difference, Cambridge/Londres, Harvard University Press, 2015, 219 pages