Department of Political Science

Foreign aid and identity after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster: How Belarus shapes relations with Germany, Europe, Russia, and Japan

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  • Ekatherina Zhukova

This article looks at how Belarus, the most affected state by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, discursively constructs cooperation with foreign countries that provide help in combating the consequences of the tragedy. It shows that different representations of foreign actors handling the prolonged consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster contribute to developing new friendships (with Japan), questioning existing cooperation (with Russia), and softening old (with Germany) and current (with Europe) conflicts in Belarus. The article makes a contribution to three debates in identity literature in constructivist International Relations: (a) identity and foreign policy; (b) the ‘voice’ and agency of the ‘Rest’; and (c) identity and difference. It is argued that when small non-Western states (help receivers) construct an ethical identity of bigger Western and non-Western states (help providers), they challenge the existing temporal and spatial identities of old strangers, enemies, and friends and create a new platform for conflict and cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Pages (from-to)485-501
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Belarus, Chernobyl nuclear disaster, constructivism, foreign aid, identity, responsibility

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