Emotions and Power in World Politics

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Event details

IR Seminar Series

Date & time

Monday 11 November 2019


SDSC Reading Room 3.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU


Dr Emma Hutchison and Professor Roland Bleiker, University of Queensland


Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert
+61 2 6125 0919

In recent years, the study of emotions has become one of the most exciting innovations in international relations. Emerging as a critique of the long-held dichotomy of emotion and reason, early contributions set the stage by showing how traditional rational actor models problematically typecast or even demonise emotions, therein neglecting inexorable elements of human and political life.

This seminar examines recent developments concerning the pervasive, far-ranging and often pivotal political roles of emotions, while also investigating how emotions may be still more significant than has thus far been shown. We offer a comprehensive engagement with a crucial yet under-examined aspect of the political significance of emotions: power. First, we argue that power lies at the heart of the political nature of emotions and the roles they play in international relations. Second, we argue that understanding the links between emotions and power reveal important insights into the nature and function of power itself. Just as power conditions emotions, emotions likewise permeate through meanings, conceptions and practices of power. To conclude, we suggest that the respective insights present a challenge for disciplinary international relations. An appreciation of the co-constitutive relationship between emotions and power questions and, in turn, prompts reflection on the theoretical foundations and everyday practices through which world politics has historically emerged.

Emma Hutchison is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. Her work focuses on emotions and trauma in world politics, particularly in relation to security, humanitarianism and international aid. Her book, Affective Communities in World Politics: Collective Emotions After Trauma (Cambridge University Press, 2016/18) was awarded the BISA Susan Strange Book Prize and the ISA Theory Section Best Book Award.

Roland Bleiker is Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland, where he coordinates an interdisciplinary research program on Visual Politics. His research explores the politics of aesthetics, visuality and emotions, which he examines across a range of issues, from humanitarianism and peacebuilding to protest movements and the conflict in Korea. His books include Visual Global Politics (Routledge, 2018), Aesthetics and World Politics (Palgrave, 2009/2012), and Popular Dissent, Human Agency and Global Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2000).

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