Social Distance in International Relations (SoDiIR)
Individual Fellowship

I am thrilled to announce that I obtained an Individual Fellowship under the EU Horizon2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions for my project on Social Distance in International Relations (SoDiIR)!

The below gives you a bit of a preview of what I will do… but more will come.

To offer a more comprehensive account of humanitarian selectivity, this project studies the socio-emotional microfoundations of foreign policy decisions. I look specifically at ‘social distance’ and the emotional reactions and socio-emotional norms that shape people’s, and therewith countries’, political priorities and willingness to engage with the hardship of others.

Whilst international relations are generally understood as a set of inter-state relations, I explicitly look at international relations as a set of socio-emotional relations between people(s). From this perspective states are not unitary actors. They are constituted by the people that live inside them and the ideas, norms, pre-dispositions and historical understandings that dominate in a society. Within this socio-normative context, a context that enables certain and constrains other types of behaviour, events are interpreted and reactions to those events are formulated. Although generally distinguishing between civil society and the distinct group of (foreign policy) ‘decision makers’, only recently have IR-scholars started to study the people that constitute the state as emotional beings. Building on this constructivist literature on emotions in IR, I am interested in how narratives on human suffering are created, the extent to which they are influenced by socio-emotional relations between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ – the experienced social distance – and how these narratives ultimately inform foreign policy.