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Call for abstracts: A world of whose making? BRICS and the new world (dis)order in global health.

Recently, I’ve been doing some research on the BRICS and their influence in global health governance. Here are the details of a Call for Abstracts I’m circulating for a Special Issue of the journal Contemporary Politics. Deadline for submission is 19th November.

The newly emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (known as the BRICS) present exciting opportunities as well as challenges for global (dis)order. The BRICS group has attracted scholarly and policy interest since the first BRIC Summit in 2009, but very few studies have sought to explore BRICS-related geopolitics and global development through a health lens. A review of the literature suggests a number of avenues of enquiry that academics with an interest in the geopolitics of global health might usefully explore.

As the BRICS’ interest in international and global development cooperation increases, are these countries able to leverage collective influence over the global health agenda? Is diplomacy the principal channel for BRICS Ministers to promote global reform? Is influence primarily sought at international fora and, with, or through international organisations such as the WHO or UNAIDS? Amongst the BRICS, which actors are exerting influence? Are government diplomats the primary actors or are non-government actors important too?

What factors are driving BRICS’ engagement in world affairs? Do national priorities determine BRICS’ collective global outreach and foreign policy, or is BRICS’ action shaped by the group’s shared political, commercial and/or foreign policy ambitions? Do the various motives for BRICS engagement explain which health issues are prioritised – be it support for broad health policy reform (e.g. universal health coverage), communicable diseases, such as AIDS or TB, non-communicable diseases, and/or support to resolve systems bottle-necks (e.g. around patents or local production of medicines)?

Do BRICS present new possibilities for reconstructing global governance by eschewing Western notions of aid and development in favour of ‘Southern’ notions of cooperation, partnering and mutuality? And/or does BRICS international cooperation reflect an increasingly multipolar world, adding a new level of complexity for recipients of newly-emerging economies’ support? Both of these departures have potentially profound consequences for health that go beyond simply agenda setting.

About the Call:

Andrew Harmer (Bocconi University) and Kent Buse (UNAIDS) are inviting scholars, policy makers, and activists with an interest in the BRICS to submit abstracts for a Special Issue of the internationally respected, peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Politics. The deadline for submission of abstracts is no later than the 19th November 2012. Authors of abstracts selected for submission will be asked to deliver a full manuscript of between 5000 and 7500 words (which includes abstract, tables and references) for peer-review by end June 2013. The Special Issue will be published early 2014. 

Aim of the Call:

The initiative aims to encourage a multi-sector exploration of synergies between global health, geopolitics and global development. Although we have chosen health as a unifying theme, we encourage scholars from non-health as well as health disciplines to bring their respective theories, discourse and insight to bear on explaining and understanding BRICS’ contribution to global (dis) order. In this respect, we also aim to encourage trans-disciplinary analysis – but analysis that is heavily grounded in the political sciences writ large. We hope to encourage contributors to identify or reflect on areas of synergy across their disciplines that would yield better outcomes and impact for global health, or would prove fruitful future inter-disciplinary research collaboration.

Focus of the Call:

We are inviting high-quality, original submissions that present ‘tangible evidence’ of the BRICS contribution to global (dis) order, using a health lens for explaining or understanding broader interests and/or approaches of the BRICS for development cooperation. That evidence may draw on: the experiences of single BRICS countries, or indeed the foreign policy of individual BRICS countries; comparative analyses of two or more BRICS countries; or secondary analyses and discussion around any of the research questions identified above. Studies that seek to demonstrate trans-disciplinary synergies are especially welcome. We are particularly keen to receive submissions from scholars and/or those engaged in policy and/or activism from each of the five BRICS countries or other countries of the Global South.


Please provide an abstract of between 100 and 150 words. Abstracts should include: a working title; a statement on methods; summary argument; tentative indication of findings; focus country/countries. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 19th November 2012.   

Further enquiries:

For enquiries concerning this Call and email address for abstracts, please contact: Andrew Harmer (andrew.harmer[at]

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