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.


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