Towards a New Research Agenda for Small State Studies, 1815-present day
Our network brings together, for the first time, internationally recognised experts on small states from both history and international relations (IR), allowing us to contrast and compare a wide array historical and contemporary case studies, and methodological and theoretical perspectives.
The project takes as its starting point the crucial notion that ‘small’ is not a rigid and static category, but the result of internal discourses, which change over time. In our view, self-identifying as small is prescriptive: when a country considers itself ‘small’, it will act ‘small’. We will therefore focus on small state self-identifications as the result of processes of historical contingency and social construction. Specifically, we will highlight the connections between shifting ideas about a state’s (relative) size, competing notions of national interest and mission, and concrete foreign policy actions. This approach highlights the conditional nature of a small state’s international outlook and underscores the need for a historicized and comparative perspective.
We intent to establish a new research agenda for small state studies and a structurally embedded network to refine, test and disseminate its core concepts. Together, the network members will build upon the methodological outline presented above, present comparative historical case studies illustrating its use, and jointly prepare a grant application to further expand the scale and scope of the network’s activities.