The Discourse of 'Progress' and the Trusteeship Debate in International Relations

  • Anna Lucinda Dunn

Traethawd ymchwil myfyriwr: Traethawd Ymchwil MeistrMeistr yn y Economeg ac Astudiaethau Cymdeithasol


'Progress'. A comforting and familiar term. 'Progress', it seems, speaks to us all. Yet those who have endeavoured to offer a more precise definition have tended to find their quest frustrating. Does 'progress' represent a provisional outcome of human agency or the relentless work of structure? Is it essentially a matter of faith or fundamentally a matter of fact? Demonstrably rooted in classical antiquity or irredeemably modern? By adopting a discursive framework informed by post-structural understandings of power/knowledge, this dissertation will not even attempt to supply such answers; it will, however, somewhat alter the questions. Rather than enquiring into what 'progress', understood ideationally, actually is, it will undertake instead to ask what 'progress', understood as discursive practice, actually does. The specific site in which such discursive workings will be examined is furnished by colonial and contemporary texts on international trusteeship. In colonial and recent work which advocates (the revival) of trusteeship, it will be argued that deployment of such a discourse does not produce a consensus on the meaning of 'progress' but does instead produce the regular effect of a discursive space constitutive of subjectivities defined as anachronistic. The consequences of such a production are, it will be argued, profoundly depoliticising. Pluralist international society texts seeking to counter contemporary proposals for trusteeship affirm the enduring value of sovereignty and pluralist, anti-paternalist norms. Although such texts offer a counter-narrative which significantly differs from that proposed by trusteeship advocates, they nevertheless deploy a similar discourse on 'progress' which, whilst resulting in alternative policy recommendations, does not escape the depoliticising effects identified previously. By emphasising a view of 'progress' as discursive practice, this dissertation will conclude by arguing for a sensitivity to the (sometimes undesirable, always political) effects such a discourse produces
Dyddiad Dyfarnu2005
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  • Prifysgol Aberystwyth

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