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Foreign policy change as rhetorical politics: domestic-regional constellation of Global South states

Villa, R. D. & Sundaram, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-4785-9974 (2022). Foreign policy change as rhetorical politics: domestic-regional constellation of Global South states. International Relations, 36(3), pp. 454-479. doi: 10.1177/00471178211052870


Although the recent advancements in critical constructivist IR on political rhetoric has greatly improved our understanding of linguistic mechanisms of political action, we need a sharp understanding of how rhetoric explains foreign policy change. Here we conceptualize a link between rhetoric and foreign policy change by foregrounding distinct dynamics at the regional and domestic institutional environments. Analytically, at the regional level, we suggest examining whether norms of foreign policy engagement are explicitly coded in treaties and agreements or implicit in conventions and practices of actors. And at the domestic level, we suggest examining whether a particular foreign policy issue area is concurrent or contested among interlocutors. In this constellation, we clarify how four different rhetorical strategies underwrites foreign policy change – persuasion, mediation, explication, and reconstruction – how it operates, and the processes through which it unfolds in relation to multiple audiences. Our principal argument is that grand foreign policy change requires continuous rhetorical deployments with varieties of politics to preserve and stabilize the boundaries in the ongoing fluid relations of states. We illustrate our argument with an analysis of Brazil’s South-South grand strategy under the Lula administration and contrast it against the rhetoric of subsequent administrations. Our study has implications for advancing critical foreign policy analysis on foreign policy change and generally for exploring new ways of studying foreign policies of nonwestern postcolonial states in international relations.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in International Relations, SAGE Publications, DOI: Reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.
Publisher Keywords: Brazil, foreign policy change, Global South, rhetoric
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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