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Argues for more self-awareness about this process and for the need to speak and write differently to challenge problematic political issues. Edkins, Jenny. By challenging the common distinction between narrative and academic writing, this article shows how fictional and biographical writing can illuminate key political issues, such as those linked to trauma, in ways that conventional linear academic scholarship is unable to do.

Thamara Ferreira

Holden, Gerard. While appreciating the importance of the relationship between literature and world politics, this article raises a number of objections to work on aesthetic politics. The author argues that scholars tend to use literature and other aesthetic sources to support their already-established— and often progressive—viewpoints. Inayatullah, Naeem, and Elizabeth Dauphinee, eds. Expanding on an earlier volume on autobiography, this book creates a conscious distance from conventional academic prose. It explores how innovative narrative writing styles, drawn from a range of personal experiences, can reveal cultural and historical insights that are of direct relevance to scholarship and political practice.

Art and World Politics Art is often the first thing that comes to mind regarding the politics of aesthetics. The contribution of artists emerges not from authentically depicting the world but from engaging the process of representation. This is precisely why some of the most significant insights into global politics emerge not from endeavors that ignore representation, but from those that explore how representative practices themselves have come to shape political events.

In so doing Guernica has become a constant public and political reminder of the moral dangers of war. A particularly insightful and influential scholar who has explored these links between art and politics is Alex Danchev Danchev and Danchev For him, a work of art can lead us to see the world in a new light and help us rethink assumptions we have taken for granted, including those about politics.

Since , numerous scholars have shown how these aesthetic engagements with the political help us rethink topics that range from terrorism and torture to memory and identity. Part of this scholarly trend also involves studies on how museum exhibitions have come to represent and shape public options on topics as diverse as nationalism, foreign policy, and war, as exemplified by Luke and Sylvester Special Issue: Painting Politics. Social Alternatives Examines how abstract art can depict political issues in ways that allow us to reflect on the emotional and ethical significance of them.

Examples range from colonial domination and development to resistance against state-based authoritarianism and gendered forms of domination. Danchev, Alex. On Art and War and Terror. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, A series of essays that use the aesthetic imagination—and art, photography, film, and literature in particular—to offer new perspectives terrorism and war. On Good and Evil and the Grey Zone.

Shows how art, broadly conceived, serves the role of political and moral witnessing.

Argues that we should look to artists, not politicians, when trying to find innovative solutions to entrenched political problems. Danchev, Alex, and Debbie Lisle, eds. Special Issue: Art, Politics, Purpose. Review of International Studies Looks at art as a broadly defined form of creative production that engages and comments on global politics. Art is presented as an open-ended medium that invites responses and reflections. Danchev, Alex, and R.

Creativity and Politics

Walker, eds. Special Issue: Art and Politics. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political Shows how key political issues can be reviewed and rethought through analysis of various aesthetic means, including visual art, monuments, murals, and literature. Art as a Political Witness. Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich, Explores links between art and political witnessing.

Engaging practices as diverse as poetry, performance art, dance, film and theater, the authors highlight the unique role art plays in documenting political issues. Luke, Timothy W. Museum Politics: Power Plays at the Exhibition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Engages the politics of museums, particularly in North America. Shows how they both entrench and challenge collective societal values on a wide range of issues, including the Holocaust legacy. Negash, Girma. Early text that surveys how art, in its broadest form, reflects and shapes political values and practices.

Includes both Western and non-Western examples. Sylvester, Christine. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, Surveys museum and exhibitions around the world and draws attention to how collage and the juxtaposition of unexpected objects can potentially challenge the political prejudices of viewers.

International Politics and Performance : Jenny Edkins :

The Politics of Still Images Images—and visuality in a much broader sense—play a particularly important role in aesthetic politics. So much so that some scholars, such as W. Many scholars have, in particular, focused on the political role of photographs, in part because they are memorable and shape how communities make sense of themselves. There are few realms where the power of photographs is more obvious than with icons, as prominently shown in Hariman and Luciates At a time when we are saturated with information stemming from multiple media sources, iconic photographs remain influential for their ability to capture social and political issues in succinct and mesmerizing ways.

Scholars on other works focus on different political themes. Moeller shows how the widespread circulation of media saturation of images of suffering leads to compassion fatigue. Sliwinski as well as Fehrenbach and Rodogno examine how photographs have influenced how human rights and humanitarian policies have emerged. Photographs are the most prominent and most widely examined still images, but they are not the only ones. A few examples from a burgeoning body of literature include Hansen , which shows how cartoons have triggered major political controversies.

Branch examines how the development of cartographic techniques in the Early Modern period played a key role in shaping the emergence of the state. Shim highlights how satellite images, which are always processed to correct distortions in raw data, are nevertheless used as irrefutable hard data to justify foreign policy decisions.

Branch, Jordan.

International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice

Cambridge University Press, Shows how the development of cartographic techniques facilitated the emergence of the nation-state, which holds exclusive political authority over a well-defined territory. Campbell, David. One of several influential essays by a prominent scholar on the topic of visuality.

Fehrenbach, Heide, and Davide Rodogno. Humanitarian Photography. Looks at how humanitarian photography has emerged historically and analyzes the roles it has played in different historical and political contexts around the world. Hansen, Lene. One of several key essays by an influential commentator on the links between visuality and security. Provides a framework to understand visual securitization and illustrates its significance by showing how cartoons triggered international controversies and violence in parts of Europe.

Hariman, Robert, and John Louis Luciates. Classic text on iconic images. Although focused primarily on the United States, the analysis captures the global and political significance of images that acquire iconic status. Mitchell, W. Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology. An influential classic text. Influential book that introduces the much-debated concept of compassion fatigue. Examines situations in which audiences are so saturated with media images of suffering that they start to detach from the ethical and political issues that underpin them.

Addressing the paradox that most media images deal with violence and war, this book offers a way of appreciating largely neglected political links between visuality and peace. Shim, David. Examines how policies are justified based on satellite images, which are presented as authentic depictions of the earth even though they are subjectively assembled from a range of different images.

Sliwinski, Sharon. Human Rights in Camera. Examines how visual images accompanied, represented, and shaped the historical struggle for human rights. Examples range from the Lisbon earthquake of to the genocide in Rwanda in the mids. The Politics of Moving Images Moving images are the obvious counterpart to still ones. They too are associated with a range of political phenomena and insights. The focus here is primarily on film, in part because other realms, such as television, are covered in Popular Culture and Social Media. Scholars, in works such as Funnell and Dodds , have shown how Hollywood and other films provide us with well- rehearsed and deeply entrenched models of heroes and villains to the point that they shape societal values.

Prominent movies, such as the James Bond series, depict the world as one in which threats lurk permanently and have to be addressed quickly and violently to preempt disasters. When such images and depictions appear and reappear in films, on television, and elsewhere, they start to become part of societal values and assumptions, constituting some ideas and people as legitimate and others as dangerous or deviant. It is against the backdrop of these societal dynamics that Shapiro examines the links between film and geopolitics or Weber explores how film contributes to establishing—and challenging—prevailing forms of national identity.

These and other cinematic depictions are particularly powerful, Plantinga and Smith stress, because they provide the viewer a visceral experience through a combination of narratives, visual images and sound. The political effects of these visual-emotional character developments can be diverse. They can, for instance, provide viewers with insights into historical or contemporary experiences that they otherwise would never be able to gain.

While most scholars have focused on analyzing the political content and consequences of films, some have started to explore film as an actual form of research method itself. Weber uses documentary filmmaking as a way of exploring identity politics in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September ; Der Derian documents the rapidly changing links between media and entertainment networks and military politics; Callahan explores the transnational politics of everyday life; and Harman challenges gender-based and race-based dominations by using short films to depict alternative views of health and development politics.

Callahan, William A. Discusses filmmaking as an important research method. Based on his own experiences, the author stressing that field-research filmmaking is able to supplement factual evidence and capture the more affective dimensions of politics, such as the political significance of bodily senses and experiences.

Der Derian, James. Influential book by a prominent scholar and documentary filmmaker. Analyzes changing information technologies and how they intersect among media networks, the film industry, and the military apparatus broadly understood. Funnell, Lisa, and Klaus Dodds. Geographies, Genders and Geopolitics of James Bond. London: Palgrave Macmillan, Examines the social and political dimension of James Bond movies by showing how they represent and entrench prevailing norms centered on issues such as gender, masculinity, and geopolitics.

Harman, Sophie. Examines the potential of collaborative filmmaking between scholars and local citizens. Focusing on the politics of everyday experience in rural Tanzania, the article employs feminist and postcolonial concepts to explore how film, and visuality in general, provides new ways of thinking about the political. Plantinga, Carl, and Greg M.

Smith, eds. Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Examines the links between film and emotions and shows how cinematographic techniques, in combination with narrative and music, provide unique ways of depicting social and political issues. Cinematic Geopolitics. One of several books and articles by an influential scholar on aesthetic politics. Shows how both documentary and feature films can provide critical alternative insights into key geopolitical issues.

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Returning user. Request Username Can't sign in? Neo-liberal strategies and indeed counter strategies are discussed by Levidow who suggests it is inadequate simply to oppose marketization in HE, instead it is necessary to stimulate debate over how to define our collective problems and aspirations. The wealth of emergent research testifies to the continued broadening and deepening of IR and Security Studies, and the ongoing challenge to their positivist roots e.

This has yielded a wide scope of enquiry, with scholars addressing a range of research questions that can best be answered through aesthetic or visual approaches. Despite the broad range, most aesthetic approaches to IR are concerned with how images re shape world politics and our knowledge and engagement with them Hansen, This opening up of the discipline is also seen in different forms through which recent research has been presented.

Recent works by Dauphinee and Jackson , for instance, have pushed the boundaries of IR even further. Of course, world literature has dealt with themes of politics for centuries, so the subject matter itself does not make these works unique. One of the most significant outcomes of these challenges to positivist IR and traditional modes of enquiry and communication has been an ongoing enquiry into the discipline itself, its boundaries, possibilities and inequalities. IR students are now familiar with these debates, since most courses contain an element of critical perspectives, and most major textbooks dedicate a significant number of chapters to various critical schools e.

The subsequent challenge, then, is how to translate this broad appreciation of critical debates into active learning, and, indeed, doing IR? The following section outlines how these challenges were met by the International Security course and the use of audio-visual assessments. Group work allowed students to engage in dialogue to negotiate themes, and to have more hands for practical tasks of acting, editing and recording.

The projects were presented in the final week of the module, accompanied with a class discussion.

Race and Racism in International Relations

Marking criteria focused on research, content, message and idea development. The podcasts were accompanied by essays in which students, working individually, reflected further on the key issues. Students used the essay as an opportunity to theorise or reflect more traditionally, and to push their research to new directions. Students were advised to reflect on recent podcasts and broadcast programmes 2 such as This American Life, Radio Lab, File on Four for inspiration.

Thus you have to rethink the way you communicate with the audience. It was quite compelling. What was particularly striking is that, in contrast to the help that students often seek when completing essays, very little help — virtually none at all — was sought from the module leader in both years, though assistance was offered in the form of office hour appointments, discussions and reviews of work completed.

They simply got on with these assignments, sought technical help when required, and showcased their work in Week 11 of the course. The assignment thus creates a platform to articulate academic insight, using discourses — such as satire and humour — outside traditional academic jargon. The students later expanded this theme in their essays with one work on postcolonial security literature and another examining silent security subjects Hansen, The projects encouraged students to act like researchers, enabling them to employ social science methodologies taught on the MA programme and, in several cases, literally get out into the field, carry out primary research, take photographs and interview respondents.

Many also re-thought the location of security, finding fieldwork sites in their own neighbourhoods. For instance, the group working on an audio podcast about the Somali community in Birmingham began with a project on maritime piracy. This course has been taught at our University since , but it is only with the introduction of audio-visual assignments that many students devised projects which dealt directly with our city and immediate surroundings. Many of the groups found their fieldwork sites and respondents in their immediate communities and neighbourhoods. The group investigating knife crime interviewed Aston University students about their perceptions of security and also documented their own research journey in the video, featuring themselves discussing their methodology, findings and interviewing of participants, and were thus reflexive of the research process itself.

The students were also inspired by a vandalised poster near their accommodation, in a neighbourhood perceived to have a high knife crime rate.

Module description

The paper as a whole allowed the students to explore ideas about security narratives, and to engage with feminist IR debates. The question then is why such work — which features a deep engagement with the subject, reflects on subject positions and the creation of knowledge, relies on primary research and contains unexpected findings and sophisticated, original arguments, while also demonstrating student engagement with their city, its politics and its citizens — is so often absent from more traditional written work.

That is not to say that all written work is lacking in these elements, and there is certainly a great deal of sophisticated essay writing at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, but as the student feedback demonstrates, the lack of an essay structure gave students more freedom to experiment. The flipside of this is that essays are perceived to be formats which do not allow creativity and experimentation and require students to conform to specific rules and elements. As such, these active learning experiences, through diverse digital media, freedom and lack of rules and constraints, enable students to make their own original contributions to IR, linked with their diverse life experiences.

Universities can either respond to this agenda by accepting the notion of students as customers of HE or they can challenge the purely instrumental approach to knowledge as simply serving the needs of a global market. A marketised perspective emphasises the direct role of a degree in HE to secure future material affluence and to meet the needs of industry in global society, rather than to study as an on-going investment in the self Molesworth et al, : Consultation with literature is one part of the educational process, the other is to develop a reflexive attitude towards life; to be attuned to and use life experience Barron, : 4.

Yet, HE students are journeying through a system that is increasingly structured for a swift progression towards a high paid job, rather than crafted for reflexive enquiry, that transforms student understanding throughout life Hayes, As HE has become partly measured by the numbers of students it attracts and later places into well-paid jobs, pressure on time has led to a method where learning experiences of students are broken down into discrete modules and sessions, usually separated into weekly folders that reside in online learning environments.

While this provides consistency, students can come to view research processes in a similar, fragmented way within the modular system Hayes, Topics are presented chronologically, week-by-week and students can easily miss important connections from their first or second years of study that might be helpful to revisit later. The idea of students living research in this context is an adaptation of the approach suggested by Mills in The Sociological Imagination Hayes, Mills suggests that successful scholars do not split their work from the rest of their lives, but treat scholarship as a choice of how to live , as well as a choice of career.

Given that many universities now place a strong focus on discrete skills for student employability, we suggest that embedding the transformative skills emphasised by Mills, through non-traditional means of doing and communicating research for the study of IR empowers students. This builds their confidence and resilience and thus helps them make connections that aid their employability.


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In a broader approach to university study, digital media can aid students to link their prior experiences with their topics of study, as well as anticipate the skills needed for their careers to come. The audio-visual projects encourage students to see more clearly the connections between theory and practice, thus contributing to a professionalisation of MA students through fieldwork methodologies and acquisition of new skills. Feedback from the students suggests that the assignments made them less passive about presenting their ideas, as Table 1 demonstrates. As such they are enabled to be social scientists, in a way that feels less intimidating and formal than in an essay alone.

This encourages students to understand the transformative potential of their university experiences personally, through the projects they work on, but it might be taken further to invite student input into the pedagogical design of our future courses to come. While the audio-visual project was received with enthusiasm by students for the second year running, the method is not without its limitations. These can be divided into practical and ethical. With regards to the practical, the main problem we faced was in the first year that the assessment ran.

It was weighted at 30 per cent of the module, which student feedback indicated was far too little for the amount of work involved. The following year, weighting was increased to 50 per cent to better reflect the work involved. The problem of complex editing was also highlighted; as a result, the projects in the following year were somewhat technically less complicated but just as compelling.