Rebecca Adler-Nissen, Katrine Emilie Andersen and Lene Hansen (2019). 'Images, emotions, and international politics: The death of Alan Kurdi'. Review of International Studies, 1-21. doi:10.1017/S0260210519000317
How are images, emotions, and international politics connected? This article develops a theoretical framework contributing to visuality and emotions research in International Relations. Correcting the understanding that images cause particular emotional responses, this article claims that emotionally laden responses to images should be seen as performed in foreign policy discourses. We theorise images as objects of interpretation and contestation, and emotions as socially constituted rather than as individual ‘inner states’. Emotional bundling – the coupling of different emotions in discourse – helps constitute political subjectivities that both politicise and depoliticise. Through emotional bundling political leaders express their experiences of feelings shared by all humans, and simultaneously articulate themselves in authoritative and gendered subject positions such as ‘the father’. We illustrate the value of our framework by analysing the photographs of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian-Kurdish boy who drowned in September 2015. ‘Kurdi’ became an instant global icon of the Syrian refugee crisis. World leaders expressed their personal grief and determination to act, but within a year, policies adopted with direct reference to Kurdi's tragic death changed from an open-door approach to attempts to stop refugees from arriving. A discursive-performative approach opens up new avenues for research on visuality, emotionality, and world politics.
Kristin Anabel Eggeling (2019). 'The digitalization of public diplomacy'. Book review. Cambridge Review of International Affairs.
In The digitalization of public diplomacy, Ilan Manor describes how the emergence of digital communication and social media has impacted the institutions and practice of public diplomacy over the last two decades. The book begins with the assertion that existing academic concepts, such as ‘public diplomacy 2.0’, ‘virtual diplomacy’ or ‘digital diplomacy’, do not adequately capture ‘the impact of digital technologies on the conduct of public diplomacy’ (14). What they fail to identify, Manor argues, is that diplomatic institutions neither exist in a ‘binary state’ of being either digital or non-digital, nor can be separated into those which have and have not digitalized their diplomatic activities (14). As an alternative, Manor introduces the term ‘the digitalization of public diplomacy’ to capture the long-term process through which digital technologies are influencing the ‘norms, values, working routines and structures of diplomatic institutions, as well as the self-narratives and metaphors diplomats employ to conceptualize their craft’ (15). While Manor acknowledges early on that the digitalization of public diplomacy is ‘not uniform across all MFAs [ministries of foreign affairs]’, he nevertheless attempts to build generalized arguments about the conduct of public diplomacy in the digital age by drawing on a range of empirical contexts and examples. In line with the ambitions of the book series in which this monograph appears (the Palgrave Macmillan Series on Global Public Diplomacy), Manor seeks to advance understanding on public diplomacy from a global perspective, looking at concepts, policies and practices in various regions of the world.
Rebecca Adler-Nissen and Alena Drieschova (2019). 'Track-change diplomacy: Technology, affordances and the practice of international negotiations'. International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming.
How does technology influence international negotiations? This article explores ‘track-change diplomacy’ – how diplomats use information and communication technology (ICT) such as word processing software and mobile devices to collaboratively edit and negotiate documents. To analyze the widespread but understudied phenomenon of track-change diplomacy, the article adopts a practice-oriented approach to technology, developing the concept of affordance: the way a tool or technology simultaneously enables and constrains the tasks users can possibly perform with it. The article shows how digital ICT affords shareability, visualization and immediacy of information, thus shaping the temporality and power dynamics of international negotiations. These three affordances have significant consequences for how states construct and promote national interests; how diplomats reach compromises among a large number of states (as text edits in collective drafting exercises); and how power plays out in international negotiations. Drawing on ethnographic methods, including participant observation of negotiations between the EU’s member states as well as in-depth interviews, the analysis casts new light on these negotiations, where documents become the site of both semantic and political struggle. Rather than delivering on the technology’s promise of keeping track and reinforcing national oversight in negotiations, we argue that track-change diplomacy can in fact lead to a loss of control, challenging existing understandings of diplomacy.
Yevgeniy Golovchenko, Mareike Hartmann and Rebecca Adler-Nissen (2018) 'State, media and civil society in the information warfare over Ukraine: citizen curators of digital disinformation.' International Affairs, pp. 975-994.
This article explores the dynamics of digital (dis)information in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. International Relations scholars have presented the online debate in terms of ‘information warfare’—that is, a number of strategic campaigns to win over local and global public opinion, largely orchestrated by the Kremlin and pro-western authorities. However, this way of describing the online debate reduces civil society to a mere target for manipulation. This article presents a different understanding of the debate. By examining the social media engagement generated by one of the conflict's most important events—the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over Ukraine—we explore how competing claims about the cause of the plane crash are disseminated by the state, media and civil society. By analysing approximately 950,000 tweets, the article demonstrates how individual citizens are more than purveyors of government messages; they are the most active drivers of both disinformation and attempts to counter such information. These citizen curators actively shape competing narratives about why MH17 crashed and citizens, as a group, are four times more likely to be retweeted than any other type of user. Our findings challenge conceptualizations of a state-orchestrated information war over Ukraine, and point to the importance of citizen activity in the struggle over truths during international conflicts.
Rebecca Adler-Nissen and Alexei Tsinovoi (2018) 'International Misrecognition: The Politics of Humour and National Identity in Israel’s Public Diplomacy.' European Journal of International Relations, pp. 1-27.
Recognition, or the lack of it, is a central concern in International Relations. However, how states cope with international misrecognition has so far not been thoroughly explored in International Relations scholarship. To address this, the article presents a theoretical framework for understanding international misrecognition by drawing on discursive and psychoanalytical theories of collective identity formation and humour studies. The article conceptualises international misrecognition as a gap between the dominant narrative of a national Self and the way in which this national Self is reflected in the ‘mirror’ of the international Other. We argue that humour offers an important way of coping with misrecognition by ridiculing and thereby downplaying international criticism. The significance for international relations is illustrated through an analysis of the public diplomacy campaign ‘Presenting Israel’, which, through parodying video clips, mobilised ordinary Israeli citizens to engage in peer-to-peer public diplomacy when travelling abroad. Public diplomacy campaigns are commonly seen by scholars and
practitioners as attempts to improve the nation’s image and smoothen or normalise international Self–Other relations. However, after analysing the discursive and visual components of the campaign — which parodied how European media portrayed Israel as primitive, violent and exotic — this article observes that in the context of international misrecognition, such coping attempts can actually contribute to further international estrangement.
Rebecca Adler-Nissen (2017) 'Are we 'Nazi Germans' or 'Lazy Greeks'? Negotiating International Hierarchies in the Euro Crisis.' In A. Zarakol (Ed.), Hierarchies in World Politics (pp. 189-218). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This chapter argues that to understand international hierarchies, we need to examine not only forms of hierarchy but also processes of internalisation of – and resistance to – hierarchies. We will then discover that many hierarchies are not simply imposed from above but that subordinate actors are often complicit in the ongoing production and negotiation of hierarchies.