Weaving the Tapestry of Life: The United Nations and Global Governmentality

Mendly, Dorottya (2020) Weaving the Tapestry of Life: The United Nations and Global Governmentality. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok Doktori Iskola. DOI 10.14267/phd.2020011

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Abstract

Weaving the Tapestry of Life. The United Nations and Global Governmentality My doctoral research evolves around the question how the Secretaries-General have been constructing the UN as a peculiar subject in world politics, and how this construction is linked to the cognitive structures in which global governance is imagined. These problems are best comprehensible in a post-structuralist framework, where structures of knowledge and discourses are typical tools for doing research. This approach has the capacity to reveal very different facets of International Relation’s general problem, often formulated as ‘what makes the world hang together’, what makes it look like someone is governing? I address similar issues, but from a definite point of view, which stands on a long and diverse traditions of scholarship when it hypothesises the UN’s role on the one hand, and structures of knowledge on the other. My point is that these cannot be treated separately if the above questions are to be answered, and, that a promising entry point is the analysis of discursive mechanisms. I assume that the discourse of world politics as global governance, structured by the dynamics of ‘modern political rationalities’, is in a complex relationship with the UN, and especially the construction of its ‘subjectivity’ since its establishment. This approach places the focus on a cognitive structure, but also stays sensitive to agency. That world politics is imagined in terms of global governance was nothing new around the end of the Cold War, but it certainly gained momentum, thanks in large part to the collective efforts put in elaborating the discourse of global governance. The creation of the UN was a significant and symbolic development, which makes it an intriguing object of research. The above elements – the discourse of global governance, the UN’s subjectivity (meaning the ‘acting Self’ constructed through discursive mechanisms) and modern political rationalities (the frames of our political imagination) – are thus argued to be entangled in a set of complex relationships, the unravelling of which is the primary goal of my project. I assume that it is the discourse of global governance which integrates the other parts under its ‘order of knowledge’, and has the capacity to embed the research question in a broader debate on the changing character of world politics. Making these linkages engendered the questions guiding this research: How has the UN’s subjectivity been formed in relation to the shifting rationality of world politics? How has the discourse of global governance organized this interplay of subjectivity and political rationalities? The empirical dataset I work on to answer these questions is one which I extracted from the Annual Reports of the Secretaries-General on the Work of the Organization. I investigate the UN’s ‘subjectivization narrative’ primarily with the tools offered by (Foucauldian) discourse analysis. I present the analysis and the results in a narrative-, and then in a discourse analytical step, and interpret my results in the framework offered global governmentality theory. The empirical chapter also presents an original interview research, which is used to describe accurately the process of producing the Annual Reports in the Secretariat on the one hand, and to confront the interviewees’ stories (who are officials of the UN Secretariat, working on the Secretary-General’s reports) with the knowledge structures they are grounded in. My conclusions outline the complex set of relationships between the UN, global governance, and how our thinking about world politics has evolved in the past decades.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Szűcs Anita
Subjects:International relations
Public administration
ID Code:1093
Date:15 June 2020
DOI:10.14267/phd.2020011
Deposited On:22 May 2020 11:10
Last Modified:02 Sep 2020 12:51

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