International Relations Research News

Portrait of Dr. Franco AlgieriDespite the Corona crisis, research activities at WVPU’s International Relations Department are going on. Assistant Professor Anatoly Reshetnikov has just published an article co-authored with Dr. Xymena Kurowska on trickstery in international politics in the prestigious European Journal of International Relations.

In their article, Kurowska and Reshetnikov probe the idea of pluralizing stigma in international society and scrutinize a few of Russia’s recent foreign policy moves as examples of trickstery.

The article is already published ‘first online’ on EJIR’s website. Make sure to check it from Webster’s library!


International politics is often imagined via a binary opposition between the oppressor and the oppressed. Attention to entrenched hierarchies of power is essential in the study of international politics. However, taking this division too rigidly can obfuscate the very mechanisms of power that must be understood in order to grasp these hierarchies. We identify one such mechanism in the practice of trickstery, particularly as practiced in the context of Russia’s ambivalent and conflicted place in international society. Through the dynamics of trickstery, we show the workings of stigmatization to be a plural phenomenon, giving rise to various normative challenges.

The trickster is both conformist and deviant, hero and anti-hero – a “plural figure” both reflecting the rich cultural texture of international society and contesting its hierarchies. The trickster particularly unsettles the ideal liberal (global) public sphere through its simultaneous performance of emancipatory and anti-emancipatory logic. In this, trickstery produces normatively undecidable situations that exceed the analytical capacities of, for example, the strategic use of norms, norm contestation, and stigma management literature. We find trickstery to be encapsulated in the contemporary international situation of Russia, while recognizing that its practices are potentially available to other actors with similarly liminal status and cultural repertoires.

We particularly analyze the trickster practice of ‘overidentification’ with norms, which apparently endorses but indirectly subverts the normative frameworks within which it is performed. Such overidentification is a form of satire, contemporaneously appropriated by state actors, which has indeterminate yet significant effects.

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