IR Track Probationary Doctoral Candidates' Presentations
Sasikumar Shanmugasundaram: Variations in the Regional Grand Strategies of Rising Regional Powers
Two factors characterize the rising powers: the first is the accumulation of power and wealth; and the second is the use of this power and wealth to achieve a dominant position in international politics. What is interesting is that some rising powers are keen to obtain a dominant position in their region; some others attempt to generate regional solidarity; while others have no preferred grand strategy in their region. Recent history provides clear examples of these scenarios: China attempts to pursue a neo-Bismarckian grand strategy in the Asian region; while Brazil and South Africa tries to avoid any destabilizing tendencies from its neighbors and aims for regional solidarity; India on the other hand shows a general lack of interest in the South Asian region but has ambitions to expand its influence globally. What explains the variation in the regional grand strategies of these rising regional powers? I argue that, in order to deal with this variation, we need to move away from implied deductive expectations of uniformity in the grand strategies of rising powers. Through theoretically informed historical research on India’s regional strategy, I attempt to study why and how regional theories of grand strategy do or do not fit in the Indian case and then present a framework of a grounded international relations theory of regional grand strategy of rising regional powers.
Andreaa Nicutar: Doctoring Violence: PTSD and the Aesthetics of Warfare
Entering the second decade of the Global War on Terror, scholars and public commentators justifiably focus on increasing practices of violence in a marked distance from boots-on-the-ground warfare. Technology (targeted killing), legal loopholes (indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition etc.) and a “virtuous war” to export democracy produce the fading of the violence of war. In this presentation I will address this topic of the erasure of violence in contemporary warfare and argue that this question implies another one, its complement: how does violence appear, what are the sites in which it enacts itself as a positive discourse and set of practices? This presentation focuses on an investigation of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a central articulation inside what I will discuss as a medicalized regime of violence in contemporary warfare. As PTSD immediately, although not unproblematically, lets us know, violence perpetrated and violence endured in the war becomes visible in the mind/body complex as pathology, as disease and as imbalance. Simply put, I want to see how the body of soldiers constitutes a conflictual field of knowledge and powers that reflect a broader, societal negotiation of the terms in which society narrates the violence it perpetrates and the violence it suffers in the contemporary generalized regime of global insecurity. In this, the body becomes a productive field of struggle for a number of authoritative forms of knowledge among which the medical field – biomedicine, psychology, psychiatry etc. is increasingly central. How the military body negotiates medical knowledge and what appropriates for its disciplinary production of the soldier has important consequences for the bigger question of how to make sense of practices of war inside this expanding field of the medicalization of violence.
Chair: Emel Akçali