1st Edition

Revisiting State Personhood and World Politics Identity, Personality and the IR Subject

By Bianca Naude Copyright 2022
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    Breathing fresh air into debates surrounding foreign policy and interstate relations, Bianca Naude presents a holistic theory of states as collectives of people that cannot be reduced to their individual constituents.

    Moving among current research on the ontological status of the state alongside important arguments in support of the state personhood thesis, Naude begins by exploring Freud’s personality theory and the ways in which this theory has evolved over time in response to newer insights from the field of experimental psychology. Recognizing that Freud’s work is in many ways outdated, she considers more recent literature on narcissism as an aspect of self-esteem rather than a form of psychopathology, drawing specifically on Kohut’s expansion of the concept of narcissism as a normal feature of personality development. Using the South African state as a case study, Naude demonstrates the various ways in which the state presents itself to the outside world on the one hand, and how it wishes to see itself on the other. She further considers how narcissistic defenses help protect the state's ego from criticism and self-judgments.

    Revisiting State Personhood and World Politics will help readers understand how the state sees itself, why or when the state experiences shame, humiliation, guilt or pride, and how it responds to these self-conscious emotions. It will be a valuable resource to researchers and students of International Relations.

    1. Revisiting state personhood and world politics

    2. The ontological status of the state

    3. Personality, identity and the IR subject

    4. The story of a state person

    5. Social expectations and personal limitations

    6. State narcissism and the constraints of reality



    Bianca Naude is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on her training in anthropology, sociology, political science and theory of literature. She has contributed scholarly articles and book chapters on ontological security theory as a novel approach to terrorism studies, foreign policy and regionalization as tools of resistance against Western hegemony, South Africa’s search for ontological security in its foreign relations, and the role of emotions in South African foreign policy.

    'For those who think that state personhood is not only useful but also a real social feature of global politics, Naude’s book is an achievement on a number of fronts.  It is a splendid blend of careful analysis combined with creativity and innovation, and thus worthy of scholarly attention now and in the years to come.’

    Brent Steele, Perspectives on Politics

    "This is a well-written and accessible book that makes a strong case for complicating our understanding of the link between identity and state behaviour.  … [The] book will be valuable for scholars interested in foreign policy, as well as in states’ emotions and states’ psychological functioning more generally."

    Nina C. Krickel-Choi, International Affairs