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National identity discourses and foreign policy: The case of India

Posted on:2007-10-04Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of Southern CaliforniaCandidate:Commuri, GitikaFull Text:PDF
GTID:1456390005986482Subject:Political science
This study is based in the constructivist literature, which argues that identity conceptions influence state behavior. Identities (understood as self/other relations) are seen as foundational to state interests, both in terms of end goals and strategies. In this study, I examine the construction of the secular and religious-cultural self in India and the implications of these national discourses for engagement with others. Thus, the study focuses on discourses of national identity (1926-2003) and events (1990-2003) to understand if, and in what manner, conceptions of national self have influenced engagement with others. It was hypothesized that religious-cultural conceptions of national self were more likely to be conflict prone and less likely to be cooperative than secular conceptions. The study examines India's relations with Indian Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and China. The findings of this study were surprising. Briefly, both secular and religious-cultural conceptions of self, perceived Pakistan and Kashmir as dangerous, as they challenged not only Indian identity but also territoriality. Further, the policy implications of such a convergence of national discourses, led in the instance of Kashmir, to the adoption of similar strategies of force and negotiation. But in the case of Pakistan and China, while political parties influenced by religious-cultural identity appeared to be more conflict prone than parties influenced by secular identity, they were also more cooperative in other circumstances.; These findings lead us to make the following observations that contribute to our understanding of the role of identity in International Relations: that the relationship between internal and external others must be treated with caution as the treatment of internal and external others may vary, that different identity discourses may lead to similar perceptions of threat though not necessarily similar policies, that secular, inclusive tolerant identities do not necessarily engage in more cooperative action as opposed to religious-cultural, exclusive identities, that under certain circumstances identity conceptualizations (especially religious-cultural) may lead to more conflict prone action and finally that while identity discourses help us understand broad goals of the state, they do not necessarily explain the strategies adopted in dealing with the national/international other.
Keywords/Search Tags:Identity, National, State, Conceptions
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