Engaging autobiography: mobility trauma and international relations

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Abstract

This article outlines the possibilities of autobiographical stories to criticize status quo iterations of International Relations (IR). The article draws on the personal experiences of the author’s deportation order issued by the United Kingdom’s Home Office and its associated Border Agency (UKBA) to challenge the accepted assumptions of a cosmopolitan worldview as it relates to orderly international institutional design. It highlights the possibilities of trauma when border management and personal mobility collide. It suggests that mobility
trauma ensues when the expectations of human mobility, outlined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, infringe the state’s role as security provider. It begins in part one with a challenge to the traditional role and understanding of international borders that sustain order within the international. It examines the unacknowledged role that human
vulnerability plays within IR and institutional design while frankly engaging with human vulnerability and trauma in the second section. This section details the experiences of the author when her mobility rights were curtailed and the ensuing identity crisis prompted by such events. The final section investigates the ideas of critical cosmopolitan scholarship demanding that such discourses acknowledge and work through the possibility of failed agency when the demands of state security supersede individual mobility rights. It turns to the possibility of traumatic iterations of IR in order to probe such possibilities. The article suggests, in its conclusion, the possibility of storytelling and psychoanalysis to endorse unorthodox agency, and the possibility of a dynamic international institutional design, that challenges the status quo iterations of IR.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137–157
Number of pages21
JournalRussian sociological review
Volume13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

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    Keywords

  • autobiography, international relations, borders, cosmopolitanism, narrative psychoanalysis

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