Brazil
Pursuing a multipolar mirage?
in National perspectives on a multipolar order
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This chapter explores the use of the concept of multipolarity in the Brazilian foreign policy debate, with an emphasis on the period associated with Brazil’s rise to great power status from 2000 onwards. It analyses documents from Brazilian governmental agencies in order to reconstruct how polarity was thought of and what impact this had on actual policy. It also draws on a series of in-depth interviews conducted in June 2017 with academics and Brazilian public officials to help unravel their understanding of the term and the interests of different actors. This is complemented by a review of the public speeches of politicians and diplomats in forums such as the Brazilian Congress and the United Nations General Assembly as well as academic articles that discuss the role of Brazil in a scenario of multipolarity, published in the two major Brazilian IR journals and a number of non-Brazilian IR journals. The chapter argues that the concept of the global order becoming increasingly multipolar – and Brazil playing a key role in the process and outcome – has been emotionally potent and ‘sticky’ over this time period, despite clear empirical evidence to the contrary. After providing a map of the interests involved and a raw measure of conceptual stretching, the chapter outlines a typology of typical ways that the concept has been moulded to suit various causes within Brazil. In addition, it identifies common themes across actors and uncovers the implicit theoretical framework they use to reinterpret the concept.

National perspectives on a multipolar order

Interrogating the global power transition

Editor: Benjamin Zala

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