Alexander Akbik: Created in Struggle: Explaining the Stability of Russia's Hybrid Regime
Studies on the Russian state have centered on two rather contradictory topics. Some study Russia under the umbrella of the transition paradigm, as a state changing from authoritarian to a democratic regime and being caught somewhere in the middle of this process due to its strong administrative regime. The other strand of literature reflects critically on Russia as a modern, Westphalian stat and (rising) Great Power with a strong personalistic leadership which curbs domestic resistance, while projecting power abroad. In this reading, Russia is an unsecure, weak state, in which the central leadership has only confined capabilities inside and outside the state. In my research project, I propose to engage with this literature by analyzing the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of the policy-making process in Russian education and economic policy, the interplay between domestic and international actors as well as between the state and society. Through the combination of the advocacy coalition framework with a deeper understanding of the functioning of institutions provided by historical institutionalism, a new approach is introduced which unpacks how the Russian state works, which forces and actors are at play, and why the Russian state has not advanced as a democratic country.
Aron Tabor: The role of rhetoric in foreign policy: American exceptionalism
In 2009, during the first year of his presidency, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. Although reactions were mixed because of doubts whether Obama had really achieved anything in less than a year, the chairman of the Nobel committee defended their decision to “embrace the message he stands for”. Considering the presence of politics as a precondition for peace, and the Arendtian understanding of politics fundamentally related to men’s ability to speak, the award can be interpreted as the acknowledgement of the significance of rhetorical actions in foreign policy. This example can help us to understand the role and meaning of rhetoric in foreign policy differently than as merely a tool for manipulation or as strategic use of argumentation. Specifically, examining American foreign policy from this rhetorical point of view can lead to a re-interpretation of recent discussions on American exceptionalism.
Chair: Youngmi Kim