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Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review

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Fear Without Rationality: Emotions in Lithuanian Foreign Policy

Benas Brunalas
  • Doctoral student at Department of Political Science and Diplomacy of Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
  • Lecturer at Institute of Political science of Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania
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Published Online: 2017-12-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lfpr-2017-0002


The paper reflects on the conception of the phenomenon of fear employed in the international relations theory. A critique of understanding of fear as a rational incentive of conventional international relations theories paves the way for the notion of fear as an emotion. It is argued that the behaviour of states in international politics should be explained via their psychological and emotional aspects. The paper proposes to connect the arising of and experiencing fear with collective memory and the imagery entrenched in nations’ subconscious. It also proposes to distinguish the two levels of arising of and experiencing the emotion of fear, namely the attempt to consciously arouse fear and its nonconscious experience. On the first level, mnemonic-emotive agents consciously activate collective emotions via the nation’s collective memory. On the second, once the contents/imagery of the society’s subconscious are activated, the aroused emotions are nonconsciously experienced by the society. The paper offers a case study from the Lithuanian foreign policy: its relations with Russia. Discourse analysis of Lithuania-Russia relations, where President Dalia Grybauskaitė plays an active and important role in discourse formation, suggests that the formation of Lithuanian foreign policy, with regard to Russia, is affected by the emotion of fear.

Keywords: emotion of fear; collective memory; collective trauma; Lithuanian foreign policy

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Published Online: 2017-12-29

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review, Volume 36, Issue 1, Pages 35–55, ISSN (Online) 1822-9638, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lfpr-2017-0002.

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© 2018. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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