1st Edition

International Relations Narratives
Plotting World Politics

ISBN 9780367027995
Published November 14, 2019 by Routledge
160 Pages

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book presents an innovative approach to research in International Relations by examining 12 theoretical contributions to the field as competing narrative bids. It demonstrates the pervasive nature of storytelling and considers narratives as a means of causal explanation in the human sciences.

By introducing four classic literary plot structures with their respective characters, events, moods and denouements, the book divides IR literature into tragedies, romances/epics, comedies and ironic/satirical stories. For each plot type, its characteristic features, logic and appeal are first reprised through some well-known prose examples before being employed in the analysis of major IR texts. King Lear, for example, helps bring out the tragic logic of Politics among Nations, and Sleeping Beauty demonstrates the romantic appeal inherent in The End of History. Twelfth Night is used to approach The Transformation of Political Community as a comedy, and A Modest Proposal paves the way for the examination of Bananas, Beaches and Bases as irony/satire. Rather than assess the absolute merits and shortcomings of the competing theories, the book discusses the relative strengths and weaknesses of stories that adhere to different plots in giving meaning to actors and events in the international arena.

Discussing a broad range of theories, this text will be of interest to scholars and students of International Relations and World Politics, including various subcommunities such as specialists in peace research and Feminist IR.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Narrative explanation and basic plots

2.1 The importance of story-telling

2.2 Types of stories: tragedy, romance/epic, comedy and irony/satire

2.3 International relations plots

3 Previously charted IR grounds: dismal tragedies and exuberant romances

3.1 Realist Despair

3.1.1 Pedipus and King Lear

3.1.2 Classical realists: Hans Morgenthau and Politics among Nations

3.1.3 Offensive realism: John Mearsheimer and The Tragedy of Great Power Politics

3.2 Romantic Progress

3.2.1 Odyssey, St George and the Dragon and Sleeping Beauty L

3.2.2 Liberal visions: Hegelian end of history and Kantian peace

3.2.3 Marxist theories: Immanuel Wallerstein and World-Systems Analysis

3.2.4 Peace research: Johan Galtung and Peace: Research, Education, Action

4 Unexplored IR terrains: hopeful comedies and cynical satires

4.1 Comedies of errors

4.1.1 Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pride and Prejudice

4.1.2 Pacifism: Mahatma Gandhi and Hind Swaraj

4.1.3 Constructivism: Alexander Wendt and Social Theory of International Politics

4.1.4 Critical theory: Andrew Linklater and The Transformation of Political Community

4.2 Ironic and satiric scorn

4.2.1 Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pride and Prejudice

4.2.2 Feminist critique: Cynthia Enloe and Bananas, Beaches and Bases P

4.2.3 Poststructuralism: David Campbell and Writing Security

4.2.4 Postcolonialism: Tarak Barkawi and Globalization and War

5 Conclusion

View More



Riikka Kuusisto is Lecturer in World Politics at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She has published articles on themes including conflict rhetoric and foreign policy narratives in journals such as International Politics, Journal of Peace Research, European Journal of International Relations and Quarterly Journal of Speech.