The Role of Identity in International Relations
Developing a sense of self is part of identity building which becomes important in differentiating between an individual and others. An individual can identify himself to a very limited unit or can widen and extend his identification to other persons or groups with whom he does not necessarily share the territory. This leads to a collective identity for which an individual can sacrifice his life. When such identity is hurt or threatened all the people sharing this collective identity feel that their survival and interests are at stake. The result is a collective reaction (Kriesberg 2003, 3). This action can be limited to internal issues and can be constrained by the territory, but it also plays a great role in the shaping of foreign policy; interest groups in various host countries influence the decision makers, especially in dominant states to enhance a policy that would benefit their home states. Their interest is no longer shaped by the developing of power and security threat; it is shifted to the promotion of the “us” over the “other” through the preservation of identity. This preservation creates a competition between some identities as was the case for Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1960 when they resented the Soviet Union in 1948 (Kriesberg 2003, 3). So how is identity constructed? What are its different types? And how does it affect nations’ interests within the international realm? In other words, why is there a challenge to the main stream IR theories and why is the insertion of identity as a solid variable becomes fundamental in explaining international relations? This paper will deal with these questions, through which it will illustrate the personal identity and collective identities that are shaped by factors like the region and culture, religion and language and...