Intermediation, Brokerage and Translation

Jana Hönke, Markus-Michael Müller

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    Brokerage, a term prominent in the 1960s and 1970s, has returned. A huge literature analyses how brokers and intermediators— such as government officials, heads of non-governmental organization (NGOs), translators, neo-traditional authorities— strategically negotiate flows of resources and political support between the local, national, and/ or international level. The phenomenon seems especially prominent in areas of limited statehood (ALS). Governments may be unwilling or unable to exercise authority throughout their territory. Thus, other mediators step in. Several contentious debates have ensued around this. One debate concerns the scope and historical origins of brokerage, often portraying brokers as a thing of the past and a pathology of the non-Western world. Such perspectives, however, do not consider the crucial role and long-term effects of colonialism and closely related distinct trajecto-ries of state formation, for understanding brokerage as a key mode of governance in ALS, past and present (see also Chapter 12 Förster/ Koechlin, this volume). Indirect gov-ernance via brokerage and intermediation has, in addition, become a widespread phenomenon in many parts of the world including Europe and North America. The liberal (global) governance agenda of the last decades, by promoting community governance, empowered 'new' brokers, such as NGOs, experts, and corporate actors (Duffield 2001). Another point of contention concerns the limitations of an individualist, rationalist perspective , in which most of the literature on brokerage is rooted (Lewis and Mosse 2005). In order to offer a comprehensive understanding of brokerage that avoids historical pathologization and goes beyond overly rationalist perspectives, this chapter pursues a broader, integrative agenda. We bring studies on brokerage, intermediation, and translation together, thereby offering a synthesis that by combining the strengths of these approaches on the topic, will help to understand and explain the role of brokerage as a mode of governance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood
    EditorsThomas Risse, Anke Draude, Tanja Börzel
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Print)9780198797203
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Brokers
    • International Relations
    • state formation

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