Being in Discourse in IR
: An Experience Book of 'Sovereignty'

  • Erzsebet Strausz

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis focuses on the lived experience of social scientific practice and processes of subject formation in the academic discipline of International Relations. It draws inspiration from Michel Foucault’s philosophy and critical ethos of self-transformation with special emphasis on his early writings on aesthetics, knowledge and discourse as well as his late Collège de France lectures on ethics. The genre and project of the ‘experience book’ takes Foucault’s self-transformative ethos seriously by translating it into action, into actual practice. As such, it provides a first person narrative of some of the ways in which ‘we’, professionals of the field, become sub-jects of particular experiences in the ‘disciplinary life’ of IR as academic knowers, thinkers, readers and writers. Through a series of accounts of the self, that is, through my own attempts at narrative reconstruction of the constitution of my scholarly sub-jectivity in the subfields of ‘sovereignty’ discourses and what we may call ‘Foucaul-tian IR’, the thesis develops a subjective, insider’s view of the experience of being in discourse and some of its subjectivating effects. As a political project the very pro-cess of the writing of this thesis is an effort to negotiate these discursive forces: the thesis sets out to cultivate alternative subjectivities and modes of being in discourse for the self and others. Through the exploration of the desubjectifying potentials of narrative writing the experience books seeks to open up possibilities to remake scien-tific experience by problematizing some of those unreflected everyday academic practices that reinforce and perpetuate disciplinary identities. Ultimately, it seeks to work towards the transformation of academic practice (and academic experience) in-to a site of resistance to contemporary forms of government
Date of Award20 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorCarl Simon Death (Supervisor) & Alistair Shepherd (Supervisor)

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