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Culture and Foreign Policy Analysis  

Andrea Grove

There are several conceptions of culture which have become dominant in foreign policy analysis (FPA) in particular: culture as the organization of meaning, culture as value preferences, and culture as templates for human strategy. Prior to the 1990s, the Cold War constraints of bipolarity had left little room for idiosyncratic domestic-level variables such as culture to affect FP. However, once systemic constraints lessened and the decision making milieu became more ambiguous, scholars increasingly turned to questions about culture and identity. Using classic frameworks as a jumping off point, early work on national role conception and operational code analysis incorporated culture as a significant filter for decision making. Operational code analysis is another early approach that had elements of culture as part of the decision making context. In addition, there are a few works that investigate culture and FP with a different focus than FPA. But perhaps one of the most notable elements of FPA studies exploring culture is the idea that it need not be viewed as explaining whatever cannot be explained by anything else. Instead of merely an alternative theoretical explanation of state behavior, use of culture in the post-Cold War revival and today reflects an effort not so much to refute neorealism but to look at different questions.

Article

The International Politics of Memory  

Lina Klymenko

Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .

Article

Transnational Communities and Diasporic Politics  

Gallia Lindenstrauss

Diasporas are transnational communities that have received significant interest from international relations (IR) scholars. Attempts to conceptualize diaspora as a modern analytical term posed a major challenge in terms of drawing a distinction between people on the move—such as migrants, refugees, and seasonal workers—and people who are diasporic members of a transnational community. There are different categories of diaspora: historical (or classical/core) diasporas, modern (or recent) diasporas, incipient diasporas, state-linked diasporas, and stateless diasporas. A widely used system of categorization distinguishes among victim, trade, labor, and imperial diasporas. Most of the diaspora research done today in IR deals with the relations between diasporas and their host state and state of origin. There is also a growing body of literature on the role of diasporas in conflict and peace in the homeland. Recent studies have focused on ethnonational diasporic communities, especially the relations between diasporic kin groups in the homeland and in other states of residence, as well as their influence on the foreign policy of their host states. The study of diasporas presents a few major challenges. For instance, it forces us to rethink the rubrics of state and of nation, to challenge accepted notions of citizenship, and to question existing conceptualizations of the importance of territoriality. It also exacerbates the fuzziness between inner and outer politics in research and practice.

Article

Middle Powers  

Marion Laurence

Formal diplomatic recognition of “middle powers” began with the Congress of Vienna, but the concept gained increasing currency after World War II because medium-sized countries like Canada used it to distinguish themselves from smaller states and secure a relatively favorable position in the postwar order. Early definitions of middle powers focused on states that lacked the system-wide influence of great powers but whose resources and capacities were recognized as being more significant than those of small states. The term’s exact meaning remains contested, but early definitions capture three important dimensions of the concept. First, it is inherently relational, from both a material perspective and a social perspective, and often used as a residual category. Some scholars define middle-power status using material factors like geographic size or population, while others emphasize social roles and recognition, but all of these approaches focus on a state’s position, roles, and status relative to other states. Second, the middle-power concept is both state-centric and practitioner-adjacent. National policymakers invoke, reify, and continually reinvent the concept to achieve specific foreign policy objectives. Third, the middle-power concept is bound up with wider debates about global order. Middle powers were long conceptualized as good international citizens and champions of the liberal world order. The rise of “emerging” middle powers raises questions about their orientation toward existing global institutions. Going forward, the most pressing questions about middle powers and their foreign policy behavior will be linked to broader conversations about geopolitical change and the future of contemporary global governance arrangements.