Romantic narratives in international politics

Pirates, rebels and mercenaries

Author:
Alexander Spencer
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This book is a story about the importance of stories in International Relations. It brings insights from Literary Studies and Narratology into IR and political science by developing a new discourse analytical method of narrative analysis. Focusing on the three narrative elements of setting, characterization and emplotment, the book argues that narratives are of fundamental importance for human cognition and identity construction. Narratives help us understand the social and political world in which we live. The book emphasizes the idea of intertextual narratability which holds that for narratives to become dominant they have to link themselves to previously existing stories. Empirically the book looks at narratives about pirates, rebels and private military and security companies (PMSCs). The book illustrates in the case of pirates and rebels that the romantic images embedded in cultural narratives influence our understanding of modern piracy in places like Somalia or rebels in Libya. Dominant romantic narratives marginalize other, less flattering, stories about these actors, in which they are constituted as terrorists and made responsible for human rights violations. In contrast, in the case of PMSCs in Iraq the absence of such romantic cultural narratives makes it difficult for such actors to successfully narrate themselves as romantic heroes to the public.

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