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Title: Discourses of world kinship and the United Nations : the quest for a human family
Author: Mole, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 1922
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis investigates the discourses of world kinship that are bound up in the founding documents of the United Nations such as the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These discourses have constituted a sense of mission for the United Nations throughout its history. Building a human family from the fragmentary reality of world politics has become a widely stated purpose not just of the UN, but of politicians and NGOs through into the contemporary period. In light of the impracticability of these sentiments, the thesis aims to trace their origins, meanings, and continued appeal. Beginning with the planning process of the United Nations, I show how the UN resulted from a highly exclusive State Department enterprise. The small planning circle believed that the organisation should be imbued with the most visionary ideals. Today the discursive landscape favours such statements as the ideal of the family of nations much less, and yet such discourse remains a resource for those seeking an idealistic vision of world politics. I argue that kinship discourse endures because of its particular cognitive facility, but that its continued usage is problematic. Kinship discourses may be used flexibly to draw boundaries between in-groups and the 'Other' in world politics in ways that enable us to reconceptualise Schmittian decisionism. Further, understanding usages of kinship discourse presents us with an image of a world which is sometimes incapable of defining its interests and identity coherently. While being potentially useful tools for engineering emotive consensus, the modes of discourse employed are Western in nature and can easily slip into registers which are seriously counter-productive to UN projects. Thus, a case may be made that the UN, and world politics in general, will eventually rethink the notion that a 'human family' is the ultimate goal of international life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available