Dec 12 2018

2017-18 MSc Dissertation Prizewinners announced

The International Relations Department is very pleased to be able to announce the MSc dissertation prizewinners for the 2017-18 session (see below for summaries of each dissertation):

 

 

MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize

This was awarded jointly to

Heinrich Nachtsheim 

for the dissertation entitled “Public Opinion, Domestic Structure and EU Enlargement: A Comparison of German and British Policies Towards Turkey’s EU Accession”.


MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize

This was awarded jointly to

Felix Brender

for the dissertation entitled “Will The Dragon Bring Peace? Liberal Peacekeeping, ‘Developmental Peace’ and Chinese UN-led and bilateral peacekeeping in (South) Sudan”.


MSc International Relations Theory Fred Halliday Dissertation Prize

This was awarded to jointly to

Tarsis Sepulveda-Coelho 

for the dissertation entitled ‘Between matter and language: International Relations, ghosts, and the politics of différance’.


MSc International Relations Theory Fred Halliday Dissertation Prize

This was awarded to jointly to

Stephen Paduano 

for the dissertation entitled “Liberalism After Triumphalism: How We Arrived at the Democratic Recession”.


MSc International Political Economy Susan Strange Dissertation Prize

This was awarded to jointly to

Laura Reznikova

for the dissertation entitled “One War, Three Men and Six Billion Pounds: The German Reparations Question after the First World War”.


MSc International Political Economy Susan Strange Dissertation Prize

This was awarded to jointly to

Theresa Hauck

for the dissertation entitled “The National Identity of FDI: A Firm-Level Analysis of Political Risk Aversion”.


MSc International Relations Research Martin Wight Dissertation Prize

This was awarded to

Jan Lepeu

for the dissertation entitled “Europe, the West and the Rest: an English School appraisal of the Normative Power Europe debate”.


MSc International Relations IR410 International Politics Michael Donelan Prize

This was awarded jointly to

Sarah Sharpe, Romane Thomas and Georgia Herde

for the highest mark (75) in the IR410 International Politics core course.


See below for summaries of the above dissertations:

MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize

Heinrich Nachtsheim

Public Opinion, Domestic Structure and EU Enlargement: A Comparison of German and British Policies Towards Turkey’s EU Accession

This dissertation applies theories of foreign policy analysis (FPA) to the field of EU enlargement to explain the influence of public opinion over the enlargement policies of EU member states. While enlargement is widely regarded to be the EU’s most important foreign policy, the European publics have increasingly opposed further enlargement. The dissertation aims to explain why the member states’ foreign policies towards enlargement differ despite these similar trends in public opinion and oftentimes similar external incentives. Building on Thomas Risse-Kappen’s domestic structure approach, it stresses the importance of country-specific factors in explaining different effects of public opinion on enlargement preferences.

Through a structured, focused comparison of German and British policies towards Turkey’s EU-membership between 1999 and 2017, the paper traces and compares the indirect and complex effects on enlargement policies. The case studies highlight how public attitudes on enlargement affected corresponding policy positions in the German party system, while, in contrast, public opinion regarding EU enlargement had a comparatively weaker effect in the United Kingdom.

The dissertation shows that, while established theories of EU enlargement have focused on either geopolitical variables, economic factors or European identity to explain enlargement preferences, they have neglected domestic dynamics within member states, such as public opinion, as explanatory factors. In fact, previous research on EU enlargement has mostly focused on analysing the determinants of public opinion instead of looking at its possible causal influence.  By introducing FPA theory to the field of EU enlargement, the dissertation contributes towards closing this gap.

The analysis also contributes to the theoretical debate on the public opinion-foreign policy nexus within FPA by revealing that neither a bottom-up nor a top-down logic sufficiently explains the relationship between mass opinion and enlargement policy. Moreover, it argues that most research on public opinion tends to be US-centric and emphasizes that theoretical models can be improved by considering country-specific variables such as institutional frameworks or political culture.

Overall, the paper aims to broaden our understanding of the complex and often interactive relationship between public opinion and foreign policy. Changes in public opinion may influence the coalition dynamics between and within political parties or set limits for decision makers at different stages. The EU’s lasting ‘enlargement fatigue’ leaves no doubt that public opinion has affected at least some member states. Thus, public opinion and domestic dynamics can no longer be ignored when studying the stalling EU enlargement process.

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MSc International Relations Philip Windsor Dissertation Prize

Felix Brender

Will The Dragon Bring Peace? Liberal Peacekeeping, ‘Developmental Peace’ and Chinese UN-led and bilateral peacekeeping in (South) Sudan

Details to follow.

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MSc International Relations Theory Fred Halliday Dissertation Prize

Tarsis Sepulveda-Coelho

‘Between matter and language: International Relations, ghosts, and the politics of différance‘.

This thesis poses the following questions: is the assumption of a certain divide between matter and language, oft-assumed in International Relations Theory, indeed a mere and, hence, neutral acknowledgement of something so obvious that shall not be questioned? If not, what is it that makes matter and language distinguished and why does it matter to International Relations? More importantly, perhaps, what do IR scholars miss—theoretically and politically—with regards to territorial issues in international politics by not questioning this demarcation?

Drawing particularly on Derrida, but also on other poststructuralist scholars, this thesis argues that the binary matter/language  (real world/discourse) is an undecidable terrain par excellence, as there are no ontological guarantees that can finally ensure that something is either ‘linguistic’ or ‘material’. Bearing this in mind, I develop the concept of ‘politics of différance’, which enables me to construe the enactment of matter and language as both: 1) hauntological—and not ontologicalin  that both entities keep being haunted by their oppositions at the moment of performance, a fact which hinders both entities from successfully performing; 2) political, insofar as it takes place on an undecidable ground, the terrain of ‘the political’, to paraphrase Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. As a consequence, this thesis intends to challenge both the notion that there is an ontological and stable demarcation between a material world and a linguistic one and the assumption that this demarcation is a-political.

Subsequently, I engage with territoriality and borders in International Politics, in an attempt to demonstrate how the intuitive materiality of those structures must be constantly (re)enacted. Territory, within this framework, is not considered to be something real that keeps awaiting the arrival and dominance of man and the state, as most theorisations in IR—poststructuralism and new materialisms included—have been arguing. Quite the contrary, its very realness has to be made real through politics, via a politics of différance that demarcates the space of the real and the virtual; the material and the linguistic.

In order to better illustrate those arguments, I delve into President Donald Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on immigration, launched in April 2018. This policy along with his speeches on borders security are examined and then construed as examples of the ‘politics of différance’, a policy aimed particularly at materialising the American territory, dragging it away from history and sociality. In so doing, this policy enables the American state to portray itself as a mere guardian of something (territory) that is already real in the first place, as if the only thing ‘at stake (were) the survival and maintenance of the sovereignty of the state over its territory’ (Agnew, 1994: 60) and not the territory per se. As a result, the process whereby territory is materialised is considered to be a pivotal part of the legitimation of national sovereignty in general. Finally, this thesis also tries to address some of the socio-political consequences that spring from those political performances, especially those related to immigration, such as: the mass killing, and the random imprisonment of illegal immigrants caught at the borders.

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MSc International Relations Theory Fred Halliday Dissertation Prize

Stephen Paduano

“Liberalism After Triumphalism: How We Arrived at the Democratic Recession”

This dissertation examines liberal triumphalism and its undoing in the “democratic recession,” the erosion of the quality and quantity of democracy which the world has endured since 2006. Rather than asking the predominant question of why this democratic recession has come about, however, it takes the genealogical approach of exploring how we arrived at the thought that liberalism had previously triumphed. The ambition is to write an intellectual history of the discourses and practices that led liberals to believe in an empirical and normative triumph that had never occurred.

To do so, I revisit the liberal foundation which Kant laid in A Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose, the theory of progress which Hegel developed in The Phenomenology of Spirit, and the account of history which Huntington wrote in The Third Wave. In addition, I consider the interpreters who have given meaning to these authors over time: Michael Doyle’s reading of Kant, Francis Fukuyma’s analyses of Hegel, and Larry Diamond’s incorporation of Huntington. I challenge the intentions and implications of Kant’s philosophies, the “end of History” appropriation of Hegel’s dialectics, and the faulty presuppositions of Huntington’s thesis. By tracing the canon linearly, I am able to shed light on how liberalism gradually came to adopt the world views that propelled it to its own intellectual crisis, the sudden realisation that liberal democratic capitalism lacked the global ascendancy it long believed it had. In closing, I advocate the articulation of a liberalism after triumphalism, one which is organised around its procedures (elections, legislatures, courts) rather than its “principles” (internationalism, capitalism, secularism), and one which may offer normatively and empirically worthwhile insights in a post-liberal world.

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MSc International Political Economy Susan Strange Dissertation Prize

Laura Reznikova

“One War, Three Men and Six Billion Pounds: The German Reparations Question after the First World War”.

Following the First World War, the victorious Allied and Associated Powers decided to impose a 30-year-long reparations obligation of £6.6 billion on Germany. Given their importance, however, it is perplexing that reparations negotiations are treated only marginally within majority of IPE literature focused on the inter-war era while the historical accounts are replete with misconceptions. Vilified as a “crushing settlement” imposed on Germany through the “vicious” Treaty of Versailles that concluded the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, purely “structural” factors are seen as having pushed two Allied victors, France and Britain, to pursue a bill of astronomical magnitude. Materially destroyed France, still suspicious of a surprise attack of its neighbour, saw large German reparations as a key facet of their security strategy. Britain, on the other hand, vied for German gold as it struggled with £7.4 billion national debt while planning to return to the gold standard in the context “structural” gold shortage.

This thesis attempts to clarify both substantive and analytical errors of such accounts by reconsidering reparation negotiations through the lenses of one of the most important debates in social science as well as IPE – the structure-agency debate. It strives to “rewrite history” and show that the reparations bill, importantly moderated rather than colossal, could have easily been almost twice as large if it wasn’t for the leadership and ideas of three extraordinarily influential members of the British Delegation – Lord Cunliffe, Lloyd George, and Sir John Bradbury. Analysing the ways in which the “moderated” reparations bill crucially depended on the impact of British “agents” rather than being “structurally predefined”, the thesis employs two methodological approaches often used to study the power of individuals at “critical junctures” – counterfactual analysis a theory-guided narrative (Capoccia and Kelemen, 2007: 343). The theory “guiding” the narrative developed is Archer’s (1982) model of “morphogenetic cycles” embodying her “dialectical approach” to the structure-agency dilemma.

Almost 100 years later, reparation negotiations still hold valuable lessons about the internal workings of decisions regarding international debt forgiveness or repayment. Even today, these figure prominently on global economy’s agenda whether in connection to odious debts, ODA loans or the still resonating refusal of Germany to forgive the Greek debt. Thanks to analysing the classical case of Great War reparations, more light can be shed on the factors that enter into the decision-making dynamics of these non-reciprocal arrangements with enormous economic consequences.

Bringing into light a previously unpublished selection of primary sources from The National and The Parliamentary Archives in combination with secondary evidence, this paper makes a four-fold contribution. Firstly, without pretending to solve the structure-agency conundrum, it shows to what extent can individuals, guided by a specific set of beliefs and understandings, deliberately alter the trajectory of events at “critical junctures”. Secondly, it provides a theoretically-grounded, detailed account of reparations negotiations missing from the IPE scholarship concerned with interwar years. Thirdly, it adds a new angle to the historical debates on reparations by recounting it as a “story of moderation”. Finally, it makes one of the first explicit applications of Archer’s (1982) theoretical conceptualization of the structure-agency dilemma in empirical research.

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MSc International Political Economy Susan Strange Dissertation Prize

Theresa Hauck

“The National Identity of FDI: A Firm-Level Analysis of Political Risk Aversion”

Complex webs of subsidiaries and foreign affiliates around multinational corporations (MNCs) are symbolic for a tension between nation states and a transnational market. The question whether the geographical expansion of corporate power through foreign direct investments (FDI) in combination with nations’ quest for global capital threatens the coexistence of institutionally distinct and diverse institutional environments has yet to be answered. Despite extensive research interest, studies investigating the determinants of corporate internationalisation have brought forward contradictory theories and empirical results on MNCs’ political risk behaviour and preferences regarding FDI-host countries’ institutional environments.

This paper challenges the rationalist conceptualisation of ‘the MNC’ that allocates investments based on universal market conditions and objective political risk that is implicitly suggested by commonly used methodologies built around country-level rather than firm-level FDI data. Scholars have only recently found that an MNC builds its unique investment relations with individual countries, each investment function being negatively affected by the relative institutional difference between the host and the home-country’s institutional structure in which the firm has been socialised and remains to be heavily embedded. Building upon that, the paper argues that an MNC’s hesitation to invest in countries that are institutionally distant to its home-country is conditioned by decision-makers’ subjective risk judgments. It is suggested that assessments of the gap between calculable political risk and political uncertainty is partly dependent on decision-makers’ own nationality-induced biases and, consequently, the nationality diversity present within corporate leadership.

Using a multiplicative interaction logistic regression model executed based on a firm-level investment dataset, the paper finds that the probability of an MNC led by an international board of directors to allocate FDI to a country with a similar institutional context to that of the home-country is not statistically distinguishable from the probability of such a board investing in a country with entirely contrary political risk conditions. In other words, MNCs that lack nationality diversity among decision-makers are more affected by political uncertainty than their peers whose boards provide for equilibration of subjective political risk aversion through the presence of different national backgrounds. Consequently, the global coexistence of nationally distinct and unique institutional environments is preserved rather than threatened with progressing Globalization as a higher level of internationality within corporate leadership counterbalances unidirectional political risk judgments.

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MSc International Relations Research Martin Wight Dissertation Prize

Jan Lepeu

Europe, the West and the Rest: an English School appraisal of the Normative Power Europe debate.

The academic works on the subject of European Union’s interactions with the rest of the world have been generally both inward looking and ignorant of Europe’s particular history. The contribution of European Studies, logically focused on intra-EU dynamics, accentuated this tendency in favour of agent-oriented approaches while the focus on the sui generis nature of the EU provided an overarching explanatory principle for any particularities of the European foreign policy. Following those patterns, the Normative Power Europe (NPE) debate has largely been shaped by the questions of the post-Westphalian nature of the EU and its assumed preferences for non-military foreign policy instruments.

This dissertation argues that the tools and framework of the English School of International Relations permit to shed lights on some of the blind spots overlooked by NPE proponents. As NPE scholars, the English School takes norms seriously, by looking at the structure and genesis of the international society, but from a radically different perspective able to challenge the ahistoricist (or selectively historicist) foundations of the “Normative Power Europe” concept. Using concepts such as ‘Standard(s) of Civilization’ and ‘moral ordering tools’, a new wave of English School scholars has started to investigate how the remains of the previously ‘Western-colonial international society’ still influence our current global order and its embedded hierarchies.

Using these insights to reconnect the ‘Normative Power Europe’ to its own overarching role in the shaping of today’s International Society, this dissertation investigates how, in coalition with other like-minded actors, the European Union favours the persistence and development of a pre-existing and originally European set of rules and norms. Logically champion at its own game, the EU is able to develop and export Enlightenment-inspired Human Rights and to successfully apply and enhance the economic models created during the European industrial revolution.  Therefore, by decentralizing the focus both through time and space, ‘Normative Power Europe’ might be better seen as a rather conservative power which extracts its normative power from a high international status based on normative structures originally created by Europeans, and which the EU still maintains and exports all over the world by both economic rewards and more coercive means.

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