Filling the Void of Meaning: Identity Construction in U.S. Foreign Policy After September 11, 2001 (2009)

Verfasst von Dirk Nabers


The paper aims to shed light on the conceptual link between international crises such as the one following September 11, 2001, and processes of identity construction through foreign policy. Crisis and identity construction are conceptualized as constant political phenomena. The political process is constituted by meaningful acts of social agents, and can thus only be grasped by analyzing meaning. Meaning is transmitted by language. Meaningful language is never reducible to individual speakers; it is a social act. The sum of articulatory practices in a social field is called discourse. Linking Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) with the theory of hegemony developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, I will be able to show how hegemonic discourses serve as the nexus between the discursive construction of crises and identity change. A number of problems will be acknowledged when linking these two strands of thinking, as CDA and Laclauian theory work with tentatively different conceptions of discourse. The construction of the “war on terror” by the Bush administration between September 2001 and May 2003 is used as a case to illustrate the theoretical argument.

Erschienen in Foreign Policy Analysis, Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 191–214

DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2009.00089.x

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