So, How Does Popular Lifestyle Relate To Global Politics?

This article is an excerpt from E-IR’s Edited Collection, Popular Culture and World Politics.

View all of E-IR’s Publications here.

Fifteen years ago it become important to argue that IR as a discipline left out popular tradition (Weldes 1999, p. 117). Happily, this is now not the case. Some corners of what might be referred to as ‘mainstream IR’ (but only quite narrowly construed and in the main North American) still implicitly or explicitly insist that popular culture isn’t worth of scholarly IR attention, perhaps due to the fact it’s miles seen as ‘low’ politics, home politics, or not political in any respect. However, students from diverse perspectives and disciplines are eagerly and productively investigating myriad kinds of famous way of life when it comes to every attainable issue of IR and global politics.[1] One would possibly even argue that there now exists a sub-(inter-)subject of Popular Culture and World Politics (PCWP).[2]

In teaching a unit entitled ‘Popular Culture and World Politics’ – which Jutta first taught within the US within the 1990s and Christina and Jutta have taught/teach on the University of Bristol – we were genuinely flummoxed via one element. Some college students continuously bitch, nicely into or maybe on the cease of the unit, ‘But I don’t apprehend – how does popular subculture relate to international politics?’[three] Asking this question, given that the whole unit is organised around addressing it head on, suggests a ‘stuckness’ in a narrow information of IR (as area) or worldwide relations (as kingdom exercise) or international politics (as a wider, however nonetheless conventional, set of trans-border practices). At the same time, this question reflects a similarly assumption, every so often surprisingly tough to shift, that there may be/need to be a easy, possibly even singular, way to comprehend how one ‘element’ – popular lifestyle – ‘relates’ (preferably causally) to every other ‘issue’ – global politics. In traditional positivist fashion, students regularly expect to find that famous culture ‘does’ some thing ‘to’ global politics (or, less regularly, that international politics ‘does’ something ‘to’ famous subculture).

But these assumptions misunderstand. Analytically, each ‘famous tradition’ and ‘global politics’ are complicated and contested standards, so there may be no singular knowledge of both. Empirically, the gadgets and practices to which the terms refer, and the ‘family members’ between and amongst them, are varied, complicated and dynamic. In this paper we take a initial stab at categorising analytically the members of the family that attain between ‘famous tradition’ and ‘international politics’ – and at suggesting why they be counted. We present six styles of family members among PC and WP, viewing every, in flip, as multfaceted and no longer unrelated to the others.[four] We then use the ‘diamond engagement ring’ to underscore the interconnections amongst those various members of the family.

A caveat is so as here: we are emphatically not precluding arguments about other viable relationships between famous way of life and international politics. We desire to open up analytical areas, now not near them down. We need to show that there are already at the least those very numerous (approaches of know-how the) methods in which these ‘things’ relate to one another.[five] To paraphrase Robert Cox (1981, p. 128), those PCWP relationships count to exclusive audiences for diverse and now and again competing motives. This article thus highlights various methods wherein these relationships remember (to us) in an effort to spotlight how they need to rely to greater humans, particularly students and practitioners of worldwide politics, in which we include the general public (Rowley and Weldes 2012). In so doing, we deliberately increase extra questions than we are able to likely answer. In highlighting the sheer breadth of what can be explored, we view this text as, in component, contributing to a totally vast, but no longer definitive, PCWP studies time table.[6]

State Uses of Popular Culture

Perhaps the most apparent PCWP ‘relation’, as a minimum for realist-inspired approaches/analysts, is that states actively use famous lifestyle in lots of approaches and for more than one purposes.[7] In each wartime and peacetime, famous subculture plays a notably (or now not?) huge role in foreign (and home) rules.

In times of conflict, states (now and again notoriously) create, install, and take advantage of famous way of life as/for propaganda (Robb 2004, Aulich 2011). For example, posters and different media forms had been famously deployed to outline nations and their enemies in WWI (War Propaganda 2014, Welch n.d., Oliver n.d..); North Vietnamese posters in addition constituted the US enemy in the ‘American War’ (see ‘Decades of Protest’).[eight] Films like Casablanca (1942), sponsored by way of the ‘War Films’ department of the United States Department of War, offered US intervention in Europe to US publics, legitimating World War II and the attendant army expenses and public sacrifices (Tunc 2007). The Green Berets (1968), starring John Wayne, turned into so brazenly a propaganda movie that america Department of Defense had the usual credit score thanking it for its assistance eliminated, for worry that it’d undermine the film’s propaganda cost and draw unwanted attention to the department’s involvement in Hollywood movies (Robb 2004, pp. 277-284).

States additionally install popular way of life in times of peace. To increase ‘gentle strength’, states engage in cultural international relations practices that actively deploy popular way of life (UK House of Lords 2014, Rowley 2014). The British Council[nine] seeks to build trust by improving cultural family members through worldwide collaborations in, amongst other regions, style, movie, track, theatre and dance. Post-9/11 American cultural exchange programmes additionally emphasise popular lifestyle, significantly sports activities (see the USA Department of State’s SportsUnited Facebook web page)[10] and movie, in trying to refurbish the United States picture in ‘Muslim international locations’ (Mills 2014). Popular subculture functions centrally within the an increasing number of pervasive kingdom practice of kingdom-branding (Anholt 2014). ‘Brand Turkey’,[eleven] for example, defines itself using the foodways metaphor of the ‘coffeehouse’ while also invoking shopping, the bazaar, cinema and folk dancing. ‘Cool Britannia, the Blair authorities’s balk-worthy try to promote the United Kingdom across the world, drew explicitly on 1960s-fashion get dressed, on ‘Britpop’ and on ‘Young British Artists’ consisting of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. The present day ‘Britain is GREAT’[12] incarnation showcases ‘the very quality of what Britain has to offer’, invoking pop cultural sources such as shopping, tourism, pubs, and cinema.

Sports play a various and in particular crucial role in foreign policy and country motion. What famously have become known as ‘ping pong international relations’ (DeVoss 2002) signalled a step forward in Cold War US-China family members while, in April 1971, ‘on the invitation of the Chinese government, a 9-character United States table tennis team … visited China for a sequence of exhibition suits’ (Campagna 2011). This go to in the long run caused Nixon’s visit to China and the re-established order of US-China diplomatic family members (Griffin 2014). More mundanely, website hosting the Olympics has lengthy been desired with the aid of states to beautify their international fame and showcase economic and cultural accomplishments (Schaffer and Smith 2000). The 1995 Rugby World Cup, held in South Africa, become a ‘two-level’ political ‘sport’.[13] Internationally, it signalled South Africa’s publish-Apartheid reintegration into the global network; regionally, it attempted to create a ‘Rainbow Nation’ as a new multicultural country wide identity (Steenveld and Strelitz 1998).[14]

The Global Political Economy and/of Popular Culture

Most types of popular subculture are produced and fed on in commercial form, and these industries, their inputs (raw substances, labour, generation), practices (of manufacturing and intake), and outputs (films, clothing, toys, and so forth.) transcend country limitations. Whatever International Political Economy (IPE) scholars examine – whether or not global alternate, finance or highbrow property rights regimes (or the subversion of these, e.g. counterfeit customer goods); MNCs and global divisions of labour; the family members of states and markets; or international monetary strengthen/North-South family members – popular way of life is continually already enmeshed in both the IPE disciplinary panorama and the cloth of worldwide political economic practices.[15]

US-China exchange family members, as an instance, have a big popular cultural issue. The 5 largest categories of goods exported via China to the United States include furniture and bedding, toys and sports gadget, and footwear (US Executive Office of the President 2014), whilst pinnacle US exports to China encompass the uncooked materials (e.g. metals and plastics) to make those. In 2005, america Department of State warned potential enterprise buyers via the United States Embassy in Beijing that, ‘[o]n average, 20 percentage of all client merchandise inside the Chinese marketplace are counterfeit’. Among the items violating copyright and trademark regulations had been ‘vehicle components, watches, carrying goods, shampoo, shoes, designer clothing, remedy and medical devices, leather-based items, toys’. On a greater high-quality word, the State Department has also lauded the current US-Chinese film industry collaboration, significantly the advent of Oriental DreamWorks – a joint undertaking of DreamWorks, Shanghai Media Group and two extra Chinese corporations – as signalling the capacity for in addition joint financial development in industries like television, topic parks and vending, leading to increased economic growth (Rivkin 2014).

Conversely, popular cultural industries and franchises are worth of take a look at of their own right as microcosms of IPE (e.g. the practices of the global tourism, style or song industries; competition amongst Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood; the globalisation of Harry Potter [Nexon and Neumann 2005]; the Star Wars franchise and director George Lucas’ groups Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic). The Disney Corporation, for instance, is itself an critical international economic actor: it is involved in worldwide highbrow property rights, trademark and copyright issues and disputes (Levin 2003); it competes with other manufacturers the world over (Stewart 2006); it engages in monetary diplomacy; it has a global body of workers; it assets products globally; its purchaser base is international.

Narrowing the focal point from interstate financial family members and international industries to a unmarried popular cultural artefact consisting of Cynthia Enloe’s ‘globetrotting sneaker’ (2004, pp. 43-fifty six) lets in us to get at a couple of dynamic intersections of (gendered) economics, politics and famous way of life, together with:

The gendered dynamics of world production (stitching footwear is feminised, control and security are masculinised);

The gendered tactics of migration and urbanisation (younger, single ladies in South Korea relocate to cities, sending domestic remittances) and the adjustments in gender members of the family that occur;

The gendered militarisation of financial production (US military bases protect export processing zones, in turn contributing to prostitution as a prime base-associated enterprise);

The intersection of economics and protection politics: for the duration of the Cold War, the United States supported authoritarian regimes that prevented unionisation, keeping wages low; once the authoritarian regime, e.g. South Korea, ‘fell’ to democratisation – thereby permitting organised labour to call for higher working conditions and wage rises – the sneaker trotted to the next US-supported, authoritarian, low-wage kingdom, from (e.g.) South Korea/Taiwan to Indonesia, to Thailand, to China.

Using the node of the sneaker, Enloe consequently attracts our interest to the complexly intertwined and dynamic political financial system of famous lifestyle: the essential, structural inequalities and the numerous forms of electricity that should be exercised to ensure that the worldwide monetary gadget runs ‘easily’ and to keep a ready deliver of fashionable shoes available for Western clients.

Global Flows are Cultural and Political

Relatedly, however exceptionally, famous tradition is also a significant element of the contested flows, practices and techniques of – relying on one’s politics – homogenisation (whether or not understood as Americanisation, Westernisation or modernisation), hybridisation (Bhabha 1996), cultural imperialism (Tomlinson 1991) or globalisation. A first, and very fundamental, factor issues the ubiquity of those flows and the recognition that a whole lot of what flows is popular cultural (see our arguments within the preceding segment and don’t forget, for example, the combined worldwide outputs of Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood). For most people, those flows are experienced in and thru popular way of life. For instance, Americanisation might be skilled via the pervasiveness of america TV show Dallas, whilst modernisation is probably experienced via the ubiquity of television in fashionable.

A second dimension of those flows and their effects is their intended uniformity, which increases questions of homogenisation and hybridisation. The unfold of English, facilitated by means of British colonialism and US imperialism, changed into fashioned not best through legit political files and tactics however additionally through famous cultural artefacts, along with the canon of English literature taught in missionary colleges. Globally, ever-increasing numbers of human beings speak and/or apprehend English (learnt no longer handiest officially however also by means of taking note of lyrics in American track, deciphering advertising slogans, speaking to vacationers, and so on.). Some human beings bemoan the reputedly relentless spread of the English language and Anglo-American tradition, spurring businesses such as the Académie française to guard national language and tradition. At the same time, English colonialism led to the improvement of heterogeneous styles of Pidgin, Creole and other vernaculars (e.g. Ebonics)[sixteen] around the arena. These dynamics have nearby, national and global implications, as an example inside the ways that political and prison methods continuously privilege folks who communicate ‘properly’: vernaculars remain languages of the street, of the kitchen desk, of music, in preference to languages of commerce, finance or governance.

As those examples suggest, matters – capital, generation, improvement, democracy, famous lifestyle – are assumed to drift from the metropole to the outer edge. Interrogating popular culture, but, complicates directionality, a third dimension, permitting us to highlight reverse cultural flows and ‘multidirectional flows’ (Otmazgin and Ben-Ari 2012, p. 3). Substantial portions of US ‘New Age’ culture, as an example, are transplants from Hinduism, Buddhism and indigenous American traditions (Berger 2003, pp. 12-14) and ‘traditional Asian drug treatments, fitness and health practices and strategies to mental health’, inclusive of yoga and acupuncture, have efficiently been disseminated to the West (van Elteren 2011, p. 160). Relatedly, immigrants convey their foodways with them, in the long run main to cultural hybrids like chook tikka masala. Immigrant foodways are often the idea for entrepreneurial activities, which includes eating places and grocery shops – first of all assisting the diaspora groups, however, over the years, additionally being frequented with the aid of the broader populace. The wider recognition of the incoming foodways is then connected to the integration of the immigrants, and their cultural practices extra broadly, into a more multicultural society (Hackett 2013).

A fourth dimension – the temporality of these flows – also can be problematised thru the lens(es) of famous culture. Although we have a tendency to consider ‘globalising’ approaches because the hallmark of capitalist (late or put up-) modernity, such moves and flows, such as popular cultural ones, nicely predate this era. As Amitav Ghosh (1992) splendidly illustrates, considerable transnational exchange relations existed between India and Egypt greater than a millennium ago. Trading routes for famous cultural objects (e.g. meals – tea, spices and salt – or textiles along with silk) linked the Mediterranean, the Horn of Africa, Arabia, India and East Asia, demonstrating that diverse and spatially remote parts of the sector have lengthy been extra complexly interconnected than modern-day narratives of globalisation mean (e.g. Artzy 2007, Liu 2001).

World Politics/Popular Culture: Representations, Texts and Intertexts

Another shape of family members worries famous cultural representations of world politics. What most US Americans ‘recognize’ about the Arab-Israeli battle, as an example, comes from what they see, pay attention, and examine within the news media – and, crucially, also what is presented in supposedly fictional popular cultural texts. This matters because media and cultural representations have political effects. Herman and Chomsky (1988, pp. 37-86) verified that Cold War-generation US information media gave differing amounts of interest to, for instance, ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims. One Polish priest, murdered through the communist Polish police, garnered a long way greater interest and outrage than did one hundred ‘non secular employees murdered in Latin America by [proper-wing] retailers of US patron states’ (p. 38), with the end result that audiences see the Polish nation as extra threatening than US Latin American allies, thereby legitimating anti-communism on the one hand and proper-wing paramilitary violence on the other.

This conceptualisation of the members of the family among PC and WP hinges on a ‘mirrored image’ metaphor, in which famous culture (whether news media, movie or TV) is interrogated on (and frequently judged via) the volume to which it mirrors the ‘real international’. However, the relationship is plenty greater complex than this correspondence idea of fact permits.[17] Popular tradition now not best displays but additionally constitutes global politics. Popular cultural texts discursively assemble the items approximately which they speak (Foucault, 1972, p. forty nine). Jack Shaheen (2009) demonstrates the overwhelmingly negative characteristics attributed to ‘Arabs’ in Hollywood films because the silent generation. Disney’s Aladdin (1992) affords a first-rate instance, both inside the grossly stereotypical visual representations of the Arab characters – Aladdin and Jasmine, because the protagonists, are of course exceptions, searching strikingly white and Western in assessment – and, quite controversially, in the unique commencing lyrics,[18] which had been later replaced after complaints from, amongst others, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (James 2009):

Oh I come from a land, from a far off location

Where the caravan camels roam

Where they cut off your ear

If they don’t like your face

It’s barbaric, however whats up, it’s domestic.

Similarly, via a lot of mechanisms (the ‘ticking time bomb’, the certainty that the man or woman being tortured knows some thing, the hero’s suffering about the ethical predicament), the television series 24 constructs torture as legitimate – indeed, as legitimate state coverage – for the United States (Mayer 2007, Van Veeren 2009). Anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod (2010, p. 27) has shown that ladies in rural Egypt apprehend and interpret the pan-Islamic perception of ‘Muslim women’s rights’ in component thru representations of gender violence in famous national tv serials like A Matter of Public Opinion (Qadiya ra’y ‘amm). While famous cultural constructions aren’t the only sites wherein identities, practices, establishments and targets are discursively constituted, they’re some of the maximum crucial. Popular tradition is in particular significant due to the fact we are all immersed in these discourses in our day by day lives; they constitute our normal commonplace experience.

Popular cultural representations, furthermore, are constructed intertextually. That is, the meanings of any person text depend on their being read with regards to other texts. And international politics and popular subculture are very regularly study with regards to one another.[19] For example:

While kids can watch and revel in the film Chicken Run (2000) without any know-how of World War Two movies, other visitors may additionally make more complex feel of the narrative and visible representations in the event that they have seen The Great Escape (1963), which, in flip, itself represents, and can be intertextually interpreted in phrases of, the Second World War in various methods.

Popular debates about the Nineteen Eighties US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) were carried out in phrases of Star Wars (the 1977 movie), with the end result that SDI itself became known as ‘celebrity wars’ (Weldes 2003, p. 2, Watkins Lang 2007).

Globalisation is constituted within the frontier masculinity of ads in The Economist (Hooper 2001).

Star Trek represents both the mild and the dark facets of US foreign policy (Weldes 1999).

Both ‘conflict’ and ‘game’ are regularly made intelligible via what Shapiro (1989) has dubbed the ‘sport/struggle intertext’.

We have written approximately these and different intertextual relationships appreciably some place else (Weldes 2001, Rowley 2010a).

It is critical to word that this argument isn’t always pretty much the development, deployment and consequences of stereotypes simplistically understood. Textual meanings are made through tons more complex methods, which encompass the diverse approaches wherein visual and narrative elements of texts engage (Rowley 2010b).[20]

The Politics of Cultural Consumption and Cultural Practices

While structures are latent within texts (that is, texts include ability readings), discursive labour is needed to realise these. A challenge’s identity positions (we intentionally stress the plurality) do no longer determine how a text might be examine/consumed/interpreted, but create the spaces for diverse readings to be actively articulated. One viewer of Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), as an example, may additionally experience the combat scenes and locate support for his or her emblem of US country wide patriotism and valorisation of the veteran; every other may additionally locate the racial and gender dynamics of the film notably complicated and examine into the film a critique of US famous subculture and/or US overseas policy.

The politics of consumption extends past merely acknowledging that popular cultural artefacts are fed on in diverse methods. Consumption is inextricably related to the production and re-manufacturing of meanings – the protection of some, the transformation of others (whether or not through subversion, overt challenge or sluggish trade). In some instances, those methods of manufacturing, undertaking and transformation are brazenly highlighted. For example, the satirical response[21] reaction to an tourism commercial[22] displays explicitly, and quite severely, at the status of immigrants and racial dynamics in Australian society. However, those strategies of discursive re-manufacturing, maintenance and transformation are continually already at paintings, whether or not we explicitly mirror on collaborating in them or no longer. When hip-hop ‘travels’ from america to Sierra Leone (Lock 2005) or Indonesia (van Wichelen 2005), it does no longer ‘stay’ American. The song and people who produce and eat it are entangled in complex and transformative procedures of meaning- and identification-making.

This dialogue of intake has so far centered at the intake of texts. However, intake as a practice highlights the greater wellknown importance of cultural practices. Grocery shopping – a ubiquitous popular cultural practice – is interconnected with all types of political discourses and picks, round truthful trade, organic produce, luxurious, meals miles, nutrition, improvement, fee for money and animal welfare (to call only a few). Understanding human beings’s purchasing conduct – how they justify their buying picks, in which discursive phrases they understand their location within the world, the emotional connections they have to sure brands, items, behaviours – all of those form a part of the dizzying complexity of this PC-WP relationship.[23]

We began with the politics of kingdom makes use of of popular lifestyle; here we wish to make the point that anybody are immersed in PCWP relationships. Indeed, the involvement of all people in these relationships has been a tacit subject of all of the preceding sections: we are the publics who decode kingdom propaganda (occasionally accepting, every so often rejecting diverse elements); we purchase Disney toys and visit Disney World; we create and patronise the eating places on our high streets; we watch movies, TV and YouTube.

The Many Facets of the Diamond[24]

The diamond engagement ring hyperlinks famous subculture and world politics in a shocking wide variety of methods. In this final segment, we deploy that ring – an ostensibly frivolous, and rather gendered, symbol of lifestyle and romance – as a springboard to spotlight the intimate and complicated interconnections among and the various six PCWP relationships outlined above.[25]

Engagement jewelry, even in the West, have now not constantly featured diamonds. This ‘way of life’, and the affiliation of diamonds with eternal love and romance, changed into invented within the marketing campaigns of the diamond cartel De Beers. In 1947, the well-known tagline ‘A Diamond Is Forever’ (ranked top advertising and marketing slogan of the twentieth century by Ad Age in 1999) became created for De Beers. It became De Beers’ legitimate motto in 1948 and has due to the fact followed all De Beers engagement ring marketing. Through this slogan, and big advertising and marketing campaigns built upon it – extensively involving radio, television and print media reviews about royalty and other celebrities sporting diamond jewellery – De Beers created a popular cultural fable on the idea of which it correctly revitalised US diamond sales, which have been falling dramatically since the Great Depression (Sullivan 2013, Epstein 1982).[26] De Beers later successfully deployed this ‘market riding’ method, in which a organization seeks ‘to reshape, teach and lead the consumer, or more generally, the marketplace’ (Harris and Cai 2002, p. 173) – or, in different phrases, engages in financial propaganda – to transplant these Western-invented matrimonial representations and practices to Japan inside the Nineteen Seventies (Epstein 1982) and to China in the Nineteen Nineties and past, where diamonds are perceived as white and for this reason unfortunate (Harris and Cai 2002, p. 181). The diamond engagement ring, and its apparently apparent popular cultural ‘that means’, is the product of the global advertising practices of a chief industrial cartel and an instance of cultural globalisation.

Because of the region of its uncooked fabric – the uncut diamond – this cartel, and the change extra commonly, is implicated now not most effective in worldwide advertising and marketing however additionally in African politics and in particular in unique styles of African civil and international conflicts. The illicit diamond trade (sustained to start with through Western and latterly by using greater worldwide intake) has been used to finance ‘rebels’ and for this reason to gasoline struggle, while various African states additionally advantage (thru taxation and other approach) from the ‘licit’ diamond trade. States alter the diamond trade in numerous ways, along with via labour law, the law of mines’ and miners’ fitness and protection, and, maximum recently, the law of ‘struggle diamonds’ in/from states inclusive of Sierra Leone, DRC, Angola, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire (Jakobi 2013; see additionally UNSCR 1385 [2001]). The Kimberley Process[27] Certification Scheme – a joint initiative of governments, enterprise and civil society – set up in 2003, attempts to modify uncut diamond production and change. Buying your ‘sweetheart’ a diamond ring or your ‘mistress’ a tennis bracelet is thus an normal consumptive practice with global political implications related to a huge range of international actors. Whether diamond customers consciously replicate on it or now not, they’re complicit in a luxurious change (which contributes to the reproduction of global monetary inequalities) and also, potentially, within the unethical undercurrents of ‘blood diamonds’ (see, e.g., the Human Trafficking Movie Project n.d.).

The concept of the ‘blood diamond’, too, is part of other factors of popular tradition, having been globally popularised with the aid of the eponymous film (2006) starring Leonardo DiCaprio (himself a global political as well as a movie actor, with his manufacturer/executive manufacturer roles on such documentaries as The eleventh Hour [2007] and Virunga [2014]). Blood Diamond and Kanye West’s award-prevailing track ‘Diamonds from Sierra Leone’ (which samples Shirley Bassey’s chorus from ‘Diamonds are Forever’ – see beneath) drew the trouble of ‘blood diamonds’ to media and public attention, while concurrently building this difficulty in precise ways. In specific, the movie reproduces the colonialist illustration of Africa as relentlessly chaotic, risky, backward, etc. In comparison, and while simultaneously encouraging licit diamond intake, West deliberately draws attention to the complicity of US blood diamond consumers (himself protected), linking their purchases with war in Africa. And he is going in addition, connecting the violence of the blood diamond trade with the drug-fuelled, violent ‘bling’ way of life of components of city US. Interestingly, in a striking instance of intertextuality, films which includes Blood Diamond now provide the interpretive frame used by Western information media to talk about these problems (Sharma 2012).

Intertextuality in addition defines Diamonds are Forever, the 1971 movie, part of the globally successful Cold War 007 franchise, wherein British spy James Bond simultaneously combats South African diamond smuggling and an interconnected worldwide nuclear hazard. The film’s name music, sung by way of Shirley Bassey, collectively with ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [1953], famously executed by Marilyn Monroe and also protected in Moulin Rouge [2001]), and Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’, all assemble – in complex ways – the diamond, and diamond jewelry, as necessary to ladies’s identities and relationships with guys. On the one hand they represent the diamond ring as a critical symbol of (heterosexual) romantic love and everlasting attachment. On the alternative, but, ladies benefit monetary protection from their costly jewelry and now and again have a greater dependable dating with the truthful jewel(lery) (Capon 2013). In some contexts (and contra the ‘everlasting love’ trope), the diamond engagement ring supplied, or changed into idea to provide, a economic surety for women who had consented to sex earlier than marriage with their fiancés and had been finally jilted (O’Brien 2012).

Finally, the diamond (and jewellery extra generally) regularly appears in state diplomacy, perhaps maximum extensively inside the UK. The well-known Indian Koh-i-Noor diamond, presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 (as a ruin of battle), was set into the British Crown Jewels in 1937 (Nelson 2010, Tweedie 2010, see additionally The British Monarchy internet site.)[28] This diamond (and others within the Crown’s possession) stays contentious symbols of British colonialism and exploitation. India recently demanded, once more, that or not it’s returned; UK Prime Minister David Cameron again refused (Groves 2010, BBC 2010). Queen Elizabeth II is frequently gifted with diamonds and other precious stones and jewellery, some of which, while the Queen functions as ‘the personification and image of Britain to the outside global’ (Jay 1992, p. eighty one), are intentionally redeployed as/in public diplomacy. When the Queen visits New Zealand, as an example, she wears the diamond fern brooch given to her with the aid of ‘the women of Auckland’ on her first excursion of New Zealand in 1953 (Tapaleao 2014); it became in addition worn, greater currently, with the aid of the Duchess of Cambridge (English 2014). While these specific diamonds do no longer constitute romance, they do represent state identities and the timeless allegiance of the New Zealand ‘humans’ to the British Commonwealth and monarchy (classic global members of the family to which famous culture ostensibly does not relate).

The diamond engagement ring – which seems at the beginning look to be a minor popular way of life artefact ‘about’ romance – hence seems to be intimately and complexly intertwined with a mess of (themselves interconnected) international political actors, procedures, practices, meanings and flows.

Some Conclusions

In inspecting diverse relations among ‘popular lifestyle’ and ‘international politics’, we’ve got additionally problematised the ‘international’ and the ‘relations’ in IR. We have opened the black field of ‘popular tradition’ to observe the actors, institutions, techniques, texts, sites and practices linked with it. As a end result, ‘international politics’ appears broader and extra complex than it did, moving from a slender focus on supra-/trans-/worldwide kingdom relations and practices, to trans-border practices with the aid of effective non-kingdom actors, to increasingly seeing the sub-national/regional and hyper-neighborhood – the everyday, in fact – as globally and politically implicated. However, as we’ve got already stated, problematising international politics by using highlighting popular tradition, at the same time as challenging global politics, additionally keeps to privilege it, to reinforce its repute. We hope for the day while we now not want to explain or justify how and why famous subculture is applicable to world politics and might just get on with studying it.

While we’ve attempted now not to decide the relative fee of the six relationships that we’ve got outlined, it should be clear that they are no longer all based totally at the equal underlying assumptions about the world and how we will ‘recognize’ or take a look at it. The big analytical fee that includes simplifying (lowering) the complexity of the arena, of humans, of techniques and practices, has all too regularly been understated, overlooked or denied inside the pursuit of abstract models, legal guidelines and styles. We have tried to demonstrate that the sheer quantity and inherent messiness of the regular – people’s normal lives, practices, meanings and identities, inside which popular tradition is embedded and of which it is constitutive – is intrinsically and substantially associated with questions of worldwide politics. As Enloe (1996) has famously argued, no matter its consciousness on electricity, IR radically underestimates the amounts and forms of power needed for ‘international politics’ to feature as ‘it’ does. Examining the normal phenomena that ‘are’ famous way of life helps us to comprehend the centrality of the many ‘margins, silences and bottom rungs’ of worldwide politics.


[1] We use IR to refer to use scholarly practices and theories, and ‘international politics’ to mean neighborhood, local, country wide and international practices. This difference, while elaborate, is useful for our argument.

[2] See additionally and the Routledge PCWP book series. The interdisciplinary and international character of PCWP may be seen inside the PCWP conferences: PCWP1, University of Bristol, 2008 (convened by way of us); PCWP2, Newcastle University, 2009 (Matt Davies, Kyle Grayson, Simon Philpott); PCWP3, York University, Toronto, 2010 (David Mutimer); PCWP4, University of Lapland, 2011 (Julian Reid, Laura Junka-Aikio), PCWP5, Hobart and Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, 2011 (Kevin Dunn); PCWP6, Stockholm University, 2013 (Michele Micheletti, Kristina Riegert); PCWP7, University of Ottawa, 2014 (Mark Salter, Sandra Yao, David Grondin).

[3] This query, and its implied choice for truth and singularity, resonates with Marysia Zalewski’s (1995) query, ‘Well, what is the feminist angle on Bosnia?’.

[4] Each of those styles of relationship additionally has exciting coaching programs (for scholarly assets with a pedagogical attention, see e.g. Beavers 2002, Ruane and James 2008, Davies 2013, Weber 2014) however those are unfortunately past the scope of this article.

[five] We draw heavily on US and UK examples no longer because they are greater vital however because we’re maximum acquainted with these.

[6] We welcome hints of different relationships that we’ve got unwittingly unnoticed.

[7] Non-country actors of path also installation popular culture in similarly instrumental approaches. The position of social media within the ‘Arab Spring’ is a working example and has acquired massive scholarly interest (e.g. Aouragh and Alexander 2011, Shirky 2011).

[8] ‘Decade of Protest: Political Posters from america, Cuba and Vietnam 1965-1975’, The 1960s Project,

[nine] British Council, .

[10] SportsUnited – US Department of State, Facebook, .

[eleven] Brand Turkey, .

[12] ‘Britain is GREAT’, GOV.UK, .

[thirteen] Robert Putnam’s (1988) concept smartly exhibits each the permeation of famous cultural terms in IR – the use of the ‘game’ metaphor – and the hierarchisation at work in the domestic/international binary.

[14] Again, this case is more complicated than it initially appears. This World Cup became the difficulty of a globally famous 2009 movie, which itself invoked the Victorian-era poem: Invictus (Henley 1988).

[15] On an intertextual note, in 1986, The Economist invented the ‘Big Mac Index’ as a ‘mild-hearted guide’ to misaligned change fees. It has because shifted from being a trivial pop culture connection with being ‘a global standard, blanketed in numerous economic textbooks and the concern of at the least 20 instructional research’ (D.H. and RL.W. 2014).

[16] Rickford, J.R. (no date) ‘What is Ebonics (African American English)?’, Linguistic Society of America, .

[17] By a correspondence concept of fact, we suggest the popular and typically unstated notion that language, extensively understood, unproblematically refers to an equally unproblematised and awesome ‘real world’.

[18] ‘Arabian Nights Lyrics’, Metro Lyrics,

[19] Which particular texts are read intertextually is contingent upon the reader and their familiarity, or lack thereof, with other texts.

[20] The analysis of visual, cultural, textual representations, although now not conducted from equal theoretical more methodological standpoints, constitutes by using a ways the largest body of PCWP literature inside IR – too big to study safely here.

[21] YouTube (2006) ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ video spoof, uploaded thirteen September 2006, .

[22] YouTube (2006) ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ video advertisement, uploaded 20 March 2006, .

[23] We have no longer mentioned the emotional dimensions of PCWP in any depth here, however that is an as yet specifically underexplored dynamic (see Crawford 2003, Bleiker and Duncombe 2015, and Dodds 2015 on this collection).

[24] For a nicely-developed conceptualisation of ‘sides’ and research method, see Mason (2011).

[25] We recognize that our construction of this example privileges international politics over popular culture through forcing the diamond ring to prove its relevance to the latter, for that reason reproducing the privileging of WP over PC that we challenge in this article.

[26] During this early marketing marketing campaign, Queen Elizabeth II – who makes any other diamond-studded appearance underneath – visited several South African diamond mines and ‘standard a diamond from [Harry] Oppenheimer’, Chairman of De Beers, consequently adding some other brazenly world politics dimension (Epstein 1982).

[27] Kimberley Process, (n.d.) ‘The Kimberley Process (KP)’, .

[28] The legit website of the British Monarchy, ‘The Crown Jewels’, .


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