International Relations 2.0: Knowledge, Memory and Power on the Internet in East Asia

The research project ‘International Relations 2.0: Knowledge, Memory and Power on the Internet in East Asia’ is a four-year research project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. The project, which is directed by Associate Professor and UI senior research fellow Karl Gustafsson, will start in July 2017.

An important aspect of international politics is how governments and other actors struggle to have their preferred versions of current and past events accepted as true. Such contestation has been particularly fierce in East Asia. Most conspicuously, China and Japan, and to a lesser extent Japan and South Korea, have been engaged in international battles for hearts and minds, which have involved both the promotion of the governments’ preferred versions of present and past events as well as brutal criticism of the other state. Yet, despite these efforts it is not entirely clear to what extent, if at all, the attempts by these governments to disseminate their own preferred narratives have been successful.

The increased use of the Internet further complicates the picture. So far, research on how power is exercised through ideational means has been highly state-centred and has not explored the role of the Internet and digital media. This is despite the fact that Internet 2.0 has opened up possibilities for knowledge production by non-elites. We know preciously little about how these developments influence international politics.

How does the Internet influence the power and politics of narratives about current and past events? To what extent does the Internet cause a dispersion of the power to narrate the past and the present? To what extent are states able to promote and have their preferred versions of current and past events accepted, domestically and internationally, in the digital age? The present research project seeks to address these questions through an interdisciplinary research design that uses digital methods to analyse online narratives about East Asian territorial and history-related disputes constructed in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and English languages. It then explores the extent to which these accounts are influenced by the narratives promoted by East Asian governments.

For more information, contact Karl Gustafsson.



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