The Geopolitics of “Traditional Values”

Why are states that are very different in terms of geography, history, political and economic trajectories as well as religious and cultural traditions, at this particular point in time making a recourse to discourses of “traditional values”, and framing this move in explicitly geopolitical terms? What possibilities exist for contestation, resistance and change, on local as well as global levels?

In recent years there has been a global pattern where a number of states across the world, in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, increasingly restrict LGBTI rights and stigmatize queer people, legitimating this move geopolitically: in terms of protecting “traditional values” from foreign harmful influence, strengthening national sovereignty and revising the global order. This project aims to investigate this development from a global political perspective.

By conceptualizing states’ current move to “traditional values” as a boundary-making practice where the political ordering of global space into “domestic” and “foreign” is tied up with the regulation of “normal” and “abnormal” sexualities, this study seeks to bridge poststructuralist theories of foreign policy on the one hand, and feminist and queer international relations theory on the other. In terms of methodology, the project is divided into two tracks: 1) a case study on Russia’s role as a global promoter of “traditional values” and 2) a comparative multi-country study of a number of states that have recently made moves towards “traditional values”, and where this development at least partly has been framed in terms of geopolitical positioning. In all cases, I look at global discourses and power dynamics, the role of various state and non-state actors (including transnational networks), as well as efforts to resist and contest the politics of “traditional values”.

Project duration: 2018-2020

Project members: Emil Edenborg


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