Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

The Politics of Subjectivity in American Foreign Policy Discourses

Dr Ty Solomon, University of Glasgow

25 February 2016

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This seminar was presented by Dr Ty Solomon


Why are some discourses more politically efficacious than others? This project develops a new approach to the study of affect, identity, and discourse-core phenomena whose mutual interweaving have yet to be fully analyzed in International Relations. Drawing upon Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory and Ernesto Laclau’s approach to hegemonic politics, Dr Ty Solomon argued that prevailing discourses offer subtle but powerfully appealing opportunities for affective investment on the part of audiences.

Through empirical case studies of the affective resonances of the war on terror and the rise and fall of neoconservative influence in American foreign policy, the project offers a unique way to think about the politics of identity as the construction of "common sense" powerfully underpinned by affective investments. It offers a more comprehensive account of the emotional appeal of political rhetoric in general and, specifically, a novel explanation for the reception of U.S. foreign policy rhetoric that shifted Americans’ attitudes toward neoconservative foreign policy in the 1990s and shaped the post-9/11 "war on terror".