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Title: Shadows of Empire: Historical Memory in Post-Imperial Successor States
Authors: Walker, Joshua William
Advisors: Friedberg, Aaron L
Suleiman, Ezra N
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: foreign policy
Subjects: International relations
Political Science
Public policy
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Empires may be dead; however memories of empire are alive and well. The list of incidents involving the remembrance and contested memories of imperial experiences across the globe include every modern empire that has fallen in the last century and resonate in almost every nation in the modern international system. In almost every realm of international politics, the importance of memories and national narratives can be felt. As recent interdisciplinary literature and scholarship have emphasized in very different ways, collective memories are the organizing principles and basis on which national identities, political cultures, and ideas are shaped. This dissertation seeks to lay out a research agenda centered on memories of empire or "imperial memories." Developing this concept into a usable variable and framework for analysis has implications beyond the focus of the present project. The mid-level theories this dissertation develops and tests through in-depth case studies concern the factors and conditions under which memories of empire are initially shaped in post-imperial metropolis states and then evolve. This research offers insights into an area that has long lain outside the scope of traditional political science while drawing on the work of comparative politics and international relations research to systematically incorporate the study of imperial memory. This dissertation lays out an argument and framework for understanding the evolution of successor states like Japan and Turkey where ideas about their contemporary place in the world co-exist within the historical framework of by-gone empires or what I define more broadly as "imperial memories." The scale running from extreme and moderate glorification to extreme and moderate rejection of a former empire by a post-imperial successor state is developed in this dissertation as a contribution for future scholarship. This research highlights the interaction between international structural constraints in the aftermath of empire and the resulting domestic political landscape in metropolis successor states. I hypothesize that strong material factors such as demographics, economies, geographies, and militaries are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for predicting a change in imperial memories. In combination with being an independent power, the presence of a weak domestic regime in a successor state leads to the nationalist appeals of "glorifying" a previous empire while a cohesive domestic regime will choose to "reject" its former incarnation. For example if the successor state has not been able to surpass its former imperial greatness, which rarely happens, the incentives for counter-elites and outside forces to glorify the past grows as a way of delegitimizing the post-imperial regime. Once the selection of imperial memories is explored and understood, domestic identity and politics can be better contextualized. By putting Japan and Turkey into comparative perspective, this dissertation finds that their contemporary strategic decisions are informed not only by international structural conditions, but most importantly by the domestic politics surrounding their imperial legacies and their inherited perceptions of self. Examined in isolation, Japan and Turkey often seem exceptional and unique cases; however, when put into a comparative perspective, the trends that led to changes in imperial memory are strikingly similar. Imperial memories can serve as both a constraint and as an opportunity for Japanese and Turkish leaders. Imperial memories are not just ancient history; rather, they are the ideas, interpretations, and motivations that permeate the landscape of international relations and require the sustained attention of scholars if we are to truly understand the nations that will shape the 21st century.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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