By R. Bleiker

This e-book provides one of many first systematic tests of aesthetic insights into global politics. It examines the character of aesthetic techniques and descriptions how they vary from conventional research of politics. The publication explores the capability and boundaries of aesthetics via a sequence of case reports on language and poetics.

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There have been several highly insightful attempts to do so. The most authoritative among them is a classic essay by Richard Devetak as well as more recent but equally compelling essays by David Campbell, Anthony Burke and Jenny Edkins. 61 I am using the term ‘postmodernism’ in its broadest sense here: as a series of inquiries that stress the need to come to terms with what Nietzsche called ‘the death of God’, the disappearance, at the end of the medieval period, of a generally accepted world view that provided a stable ground from which it was possible to assess nature, knowledge, common values, truth, politics, in short, life itself.

103 By retracing and retelling the story through the voice of his parents, Huynh shows how and why the grand narratives of international relations, from colonialism to revolutionary progress, shape the lives of people. But more importantly, he shows that these people – the unnamed and often forgotten objects of international relations – are not entirely defined by the events we often identify as the sole political reality. Everyday struggles seep into, around and through grand narratives. But these transgressions are only rarely explored and theorised in prevailing scholarly approaches.

They are theories against representation. But political reality does not exist in an a priori way. 13 Various neuroscientific studies largely support such an assumption. A prominent review article, for instance, summarises neuroscientific insights as revealing that ‘external reality’ is largely a ‘construction of the brain’. The authors stress that ‘our senses are confronted by a chaotic, constantly changing world that has no labels, and the brain must make sense of that chaos’. 14 To foreground the politics of representation is not to deny the existence of facts or to claim that the ‘real’ world does not really exist.

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