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Re-imagining Westphalia: Identity in IR and the discursive construction of the Russian state.

Ortmann, Stefanie (2008) Re-imagining Westphalia: Identity in IR and the discursive construction of the Russian state. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis examines assumptions about state and identity in constructivist IR theory and the analysis of Russian foreign policy through the looking glass of Russian representations of "state identity" - representations of the Russian state as "Russia" - in the political discourse of the Russian elite since the end of the Soviet Union, Drawing on empirical research into the discursive representation of the new Russian state, it shows that categories of statehood and identity are more variable in meaning and indeed more ambiguous than allowed for by current dominant conceptions of state identity in IR, which revolve around the categories of the Westphalian system. This becomes evident when studying Russia - a country which is at the same time outsider and insider, a constitutive part of the Westphalian system, defining the state in strongly Westphalian terms, and yet excluded from the West. In the case of Russia, instead of the clear-cut categories and binary distinctions of the Westphalian system there emerges a conceptual field in which inside and outside, identity and difference are inherently ambiguous and diffuse. It is argued that constructivist assumptions about identity face a problem of the relationship between theory and substantive research, insofar as theoretical commitments may obscure actual representations of identity in Russia, neglecting where and why categories of identity are actually produced, and equating categories of identity with identifications. They also face a normative problem, given that IR constructivism reinforces a problematic account of subjectivity inherent in the Westphalian narrative and is in danger of reifying a binary choice between identity and difference as the only possible relationship between the West and the non- Western world. The thesis develops a conceptualization of identity drawing on Gadamerian hermeneutics and a framework for empirical research based on conceptual history that allows for an investigation of the context-dependent meaning of categories of statehood and identity and can go some way to escaping the logic of binary oppositions that has characterized conceptions of identity in IR.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International Relations
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2572

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