Discourses of danger: Russian identity production in the Syrian conflict



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Tartu Ülikool


This Master’s thesis is a poststructuralist discourse analysis for a single case study and one event research problem. Drawing on an existing body of literature in the realm of discourse analysis, poststructuralism and securitization, I examine Russian official discourse to reveal the nexus between the internal and external security dimensions of Russian foreign policy as it relates to Russian domestic and foreign anxieties resulting in identifiable repetitious acts of identity production. This focus allows me to interrogate the discursive structures and to reveal the performative nature as seen through the continuous repetition of acts, which can be seen as articulations of antagonisms towards the ‘West’ and ‘terrorists’ in the Russian official discourse domestically and in the Syrian conflict. By linking together security, foreign policy and identity, a pattern of oscillating threat postulation is observed, initially, by other scholars in the early 2000s, and then through my case study. I see a re-emergence of a similar pattern of discourse repeating itself in the Syrian conflict. I examine the formal rhetoric of the Russian government in the context of the Syrian conflict through analysis of the official discourse, and secondary sources from professional analysts (academics, think tanks and other referent opinions). This research design follows the framework as explained by Lene Hansen which includes four significant components (1) number of selves (2) intertextual models, (3) temporal perspective and (4) number of events. (2006: 66) This is a single case study which covers one self–Russia. This research design includes one event, which is Russia’s foreign policy in the Syrian conflict. From the temporal perspective, I cover one event and two time periods (1) Construction of the ‘Threat of Chaos:’ as articulated in Post-Arab Spring Reflections 2011-2015 (2) Construction of the ‘Threat of Terrorism:’ Post-Russian Military Intervention Reflections 2015-2020.