Recognition, or the lack of it, is a central concern in International Relations. However, how states cope with international misrecognition has so far not been thoroughly explored in International Relations scholarship. To address this, the article presents a theoretical framework for understanding international misrecognition by drawing on discursive and psychoanalytical theories of collective identity formation and humour studies. The article conceptualises international misrecognition as a gap between the dominant narrative of a national Self and the way in which this national Self is reflected in the ‘mirror’ of the international Other. We argue that humour offers an important way of coping with misrecognition by ridiculing and thereby downplaying international criticism. The significance for international relations is illustrated through an analysis of the public diplomacy campaign ‘Presenting Israel’, which, through parodying video clips, mobilised ordinary Israeli citizens to engage in peer-to-peer public diplomacy when travelling abroad. Public diplomacy campaigns are commonly seen by scholars and practitioners as attempts to improve the nation’s image and smoothen or normalise international Self–Other relations. However, after analysing the discursive and visual components of the campaign — which parodied how European media portrayed Israel as primitive, violent and exotic — this article observes that in the context of international misrecognition, such coping attempts can actually contribute to further international estrangement.
The concept of ‘duty of care’ for citizens abroad is grounded in a political rationality where the population is seen as an object for protection by the state. In today’s globalised world, however, this rationality is challenged by increased citizen mobility, budget cuts, new information technologies and the proliferation of new security threats. In recent years the state’s duty of care has received fresh political and scholarly attention, but Diplomatic Studies have so far overlooked how the recent waves of neoliberal reforms have introduced a new political rationality into policy-making circles, where the population is not seen only as an object for protection, but also as a resource for mobilisation. Developing insights from studies of governmentality, this article argues that when this neoliberal political rationality becomes predominant in diplomatic circles, it leads to inversion of the duty of care through new citizen-based practices, steered at a distance by the state.
The proliferation of new media has been hailed by academics and practitioners worldwide as a revolution in the conduct of international relations, with dialogical, reconciliatory, and democratizing potentials. Several years later, however, the evidence for such progressive potentialities is scarce. To better understand the actualized role of social media in international politics and deepen our understanding of the potentialities for progressive politics online, this article examines several examples of digital diplomacy initiatives by state and non-state actors. These examples highlight the growing political significance of online visibility management techniques — i.e., the various techno-political interventions by which actors attempt to make their messages accessible on online platforms. While early citizen-driven initiatives, such as the ‘Israel-Loves-Iran’ Facebook campaign, focused on strategic content production as a means to enhance their online visibility, later initiatives, such as the public-private partnership ‘4IL’, directed their efforts towards connectivity manipulation using medium-specific techniques which contest the visibility of others. This article concludes by arguing that fulfilling the progressive potentialities of digital diplomacy in this political terrain would not only require complementing content production with an effective engagement with the visibility arrangements of the platforms, but also a critical analytics of techno-social inclusions and exclusions, which this dual task generates.
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