UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Sweet Talk: Paternalism and Collective Action in North-South Trade Relations by J.P. Singh

24 January 2017, 6:15 pm–7:30 pm

Sweet Talk JP Singh

Event Information

Open to



Cruciform Building B404 - Lecture Theatre 2

Dr J.P. Singh will be giving a talk on his new book Sweet Talk at this event hosted in collaboration with UCL Global Governance Institute.

About the book

Developed nations strive to create the impression that their hearts and pockets bleed for the developing world. Yet, the global North continues to offer unfavorable trade terms to the global South. 

Truly fair trade would make reciprocal concessions to developing countries while allowing them to better their own positions. However, five hundred years of colonial racism and post-colonial paternalism have undermined trade negotiations.

While urging developing countries to participate in trade, the North offers empty deals to "partners" that it regards as unequal. Using a mixed-methods approach, J. P. Singh exposes the actual position beneath the North's image of benevolence and empathy: either join in the type of trade that developed countries offer, or be cast aside as obstreperous and unwilling. Singh reveals how the global North ultimately bars developing nations from flourishing. His findings chart a path forward, showing that developing nations can garner favorable concessions by drawing on unique strengths and through collective advocacy. Sweet Talk offers a provocative rethinking of how far our international relations have come and how far we still have to go.

Find out more about the book

About the author

J.P. Singh is Chair and Professor of Culture and Political Economy and Director of the Centre for Cultural Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Singh is the author of seven books and Series Editor of Emerging Frontiers in the Global Economy.


"Singh offers a fascinating explanation for the Global North's failure to offer reciprocal trade concessions to the developing world. Trade negotiations have been imbued with deeply paternalistic, and sometimes racist discourse masquerading as 'fairness.' This riveting analysis shows the pernicious effects that culture clashes can have on the wellbeing of billions."

-B. Peter Rosendorff, New York University

"A seminal book that brings together the political economy of international trade with critical constructivist insight concerning paternalism and racism. Truly a 'bridge-building' exercise in the best of the Cohenite tradition, and a giant leap forward for the emerging postcolonial analyses of international political economy."

-John M. Hobson, University of Sheffield, Author of The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics 

Attending the event

The event will take place on 24 January 2017 18.15-19.30,  Cruciform Building B404 - Lecture Theatre 2. 

Register for this free event to avoid disappointment.

This event is hosted by UCL STEaPP in partnership with UCL Global Governance Institute