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'Special Relations' in International Politics


In international politics and security affairs the terms "special relationship" or "special relations" are standard currency among policy-makers, journalists, and academics. However, international relations scholarship lacks the theoretical means and conceptual tools both to capture special relations' substance and to investigate their effects. This book manuscript develops a conceptual framework to explain diverse kinds of "special relationships” among states. It distinguishes among a certain type of regularized intergovernmental, predominantly symbolic acts and practices, Para public underpinnings (potentially), and variable sets of a relationship's characteristic vocabulary, places of memory, and emblematic personnel as the structural building blocks that make relations among states. Then, the manuscript empirically substantiates its conceptualisations focusing on the relations between France and Germany of the 20th century's second half. Thus, it shows in historical detail how political leaders built a special relationship, and examines subsequent interactions and practices that have defined it and given it meaning. With the same conceptual apparatus, the manuscript then broadens and generalizes beyond the Franco-German post-War experience. Thereby it distinguishes three different types of special relations: especially "good" ones (US-UK, Sweden-Finland, next to France-Germany); especially "bad" ones (Greece-Turkey, Hungary-Romania, India-Pakistan); and especially "problematic" ones (Germany-Israel, France-Algeria). Further, it hypothesizes about the conditions under which such relations affect the interests and policies of those involved in them, investigating a range of historical settings in security affairs. Undertaking my research project at the Community level in association with the European University Institute is directly relevant to the objectives of the Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship programme. Thermopile#

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