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Constance Duncombe

This chapter examines the role of recognition in foreign policy. It argues that the powerful links between recognition and representation can best be appreciated through a focus on emotions. Conceptualising emotions as part of the struggle for recognition provides a clear mechanism for understanding why states choose to act in defence of an identity, rather than accepting or rethinking how they are recognised. Engaging with the emotional issue of disrespect within the struggle for recognition offers a key for navigating the reasons behind specific foreign policy decisions. States respond to representations of themselves that do not fit with their own constructed image, claiming misrecognition. How states represent and recognise one another has implications for how they behave: this can trigger political crises or open potential avenues for peace. Such a focus allows us to understand how the politics of representation influences foreign policy, and vice versa, creating a deeper comprehension of how and why shifts in policymaking evolve.

in Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
Constance Duncombe

This chapter illustrates the links between representation and foreign policy. It argues that representation and foreign policy are inextricably linked, but how states respond to these representations is not fully examined. Representations of Self and Other are also informed by the historical narratives states hold about themselves. In order to understand how a state receives different representations of itself to that which it has artfully cultivated, and to what extent these impact on the dynamics of its identity construction, we must examine its ability and strength to project reinterpreted representational schema in response. Knowledge of how a state, represented by others, manoeuvres its foreign policy can offer insight into how policymaking shifts discursively in all polities concerned.

in Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
Constance Duncombe

This chapter demonstrates how emotions frame and are framed by the representations evident within discourse surrounding Iran–United States relations, which then drive the struggle for recognition and respect. The emotions underpinning both Iranian and US representations securitise the notions of ‘threat’ or ‘danger’, whether imminent or long-standing. They produce a particular desire to be recognised in the way that each state sees itself, not through the representational nexus that is built by the other state. As a result, a sense of mistrust or apprehension regarding foreign policy choices and activities is reinforced over time. A struggle for recognition emerges, wherein each state attempts to act on behalf of its own representational schema, influenced variously by humiliation and empathy. The decision to engage in a struggle for recognition on the part of Iran is fostered by the belief that resisting and challenging US representations of Iran will result in Iran being treated with respect in the international system. Iran’s nuclear program is the key foreign policy issue through which the struggle for recognition is exemplified.

in Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
The case of Iran–US relations

This book addresses a critical issue in global politics: how recognition and misrecognition fuel conflict or initiate reconciliation. The main objective of this book is to demonstrate how representations of one state by another influence foreign policymaking behaviour. The key argument is that representations are important because they shape both the identity of a state and how it is recognised by others. States respond to representations of themselves that do not fit with how they wish to be recognised. The book provides a thorough conceptual engagement with the issues at stake and a detailed empirical investigation of the fraught bilateral relations between the United States and Iran, which is perhaps one of the most significant flashpoints in global politics today. Despite Iran and the US finally reaching an agreement on the nuclear issue that allows Iran limited nuclear technological capacity in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions, the US withdrew from the deal in May 2018. However, questions remain about how best to explain the initial success of this deal considering the decades of animosity between Iran and the US, which have previously scuppered any attempts on both sides to reach an amicable agreement. Increasing concerns about declining Iran–US relations under the Trump administration suggest even more so the power of recognition and misrecognition in world politics. Scholars and strategists alike have struggled to answer the question of how this deal was made possible, which this book addresses.

Constance Duncombe

This chapter begins the case study of the representations that frame Iran–United States foreign policy discourse. The key objective is to examine US representations of itself, Iran and Iran’s nuclear program. The chapter argues that the US representations of itself (Self), as good, rational, the leader of the international community, and Iran (Other), as dangerous, irrational, aggressive and undeveloped, produces a particular discursive framework through which it understands Iran and its nuclear program. Analysing US representations is important because it allows for an understanding of how the US wishes to be recognised, and how the state recognises Iran. The resulting US emotional response to being misrecognised will then be able to be illuminated to provide purchase for understanding the powerful links between representation and recognition. Consideration of these links will, in turn, facilitate the understanding of how the politics of representation impact on the creation of foreign policy, and vice versa.

in Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
José Luís Fiori

This article explores the significance to the inter-state capitalist system of the new US national security strategy, as defined by the Donald Trump administration on 17 December 2017. By looking beyond the inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies of President Trump, we see that this strategy represents a break, not only with the strategies of recent US administrations but also with a longer tradition in US foreign policy. This article proposes that the supposed crisis of ‘liberal order’ is a direct and inevitable result of the expansion and success of the inter-state capitalist system. To explain the strategy of the US in this scenario, the article adopts an unorthodox approach, analysing the myth of the Tower of Babel.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
From the Global to the Local
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

This article explores the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees’ (UNRWA) responses to the US Government’s decision to dramatically cut its financial contributions to the Agency in 2018. Acknowledging the complexities of the fast-moving changes and dilemmas faced by UNRWA and Palestinian refugees, this article focuses specifically on the events that unfolded in the first six months of 2018. Through a multiscalar analysis, I start by situating UNRWA’s key responses as they have played out on the international stage through a high-profile fundraising campaign (#DignityIsPriceless). I then develop a close reading of three regional-level UNRWA circulars disseminated to UNRWA staff pertaining to the provision of maternal and neonatal health services, and to Palestinian UNRWA staff members’ employment and pension rights. Against the backdrop of the impact of UNRWA’s responses across the region, I subsequently examine how these operational changes have been experienced and conceptualised by Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon, noting that those experiences must be analysed within the broader context of protracted displacement, enforced immobility and overlapping displacement.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Mel Bunce

When people look online for information about humanitarian crises, they increasingly encounter media content that blurs the line between reality and fiction. This includes everything from rumour and exaggeration to partisan journalism and completely invented stories designed to look like real news (so-called ‘fake news’). This article shows that disinformation is causing real and serious harm to those affected by humanitarian emergencies; it can undermine the ability of humanitarian workers to provide relief; and it has exacerbated conflict and violence. Disinformation is also making it harder for journalists to report on the humanitarian sector, and hold the powerful to account, because it undermines audience trust in information more generally. The article concludes by considering interventions that could address the challenges of disinformation. It argues for more support of quality journalism about humanitarian crises, as well as media literacy training. Finally, it is crucial that aid agencies and news outlets commit to accuracy and fact checking in their reporting and campaigning.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
David Rieff

The political landscape in which the humanitarian movement took current form has changed radically. If humanitarian certainties have been upended, it is not in Sri Lanka, or even Syria or Afghanistan, but in the NGO response to the migration crisis in Greece and in the Mediterranean. However overstated, the claim of neutrality has always played an important role in establishing the legitimacy humanitarian action has enjoyed in Europe. But it is no longer possible, if it ever was, for relief workers to separate their ethical commitment to helping people in need from their political convictions, including about what the EU should stand for.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction
Juliano Fiori
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs