Maxime DUCHÂTEAU – Fall 2022

As part of my research trip, I spent one week at the University of Tartu with Prof. Viacheslav Morozov, and one week at the University of Glasgow with Prof. Ammon Cheskin. The purpose of this experience was for me to elaborate my thesis project based on their respective advices and comments, in anticipation of my thesis project defense, which is to be held in early December. In this regard, this research trip was particularly fruitful, as my research project received significant criticism from one of the members of my thesis jury a few days prior to my departure, and both V. Morozov and A. Cheskin helped me address these critics thoroughly and rethink my project in consequence. More precisely, the time I spent in Tartu was mostly dedicated to addressing methodological concerns on my thesis project: Prof. Morozov and I discussed in detail about the differences between critical discourse analysis (CDA) and poststructuralist discourse analysis, as well as their respective merits and shortcomings in the operationalization of my thesis project. In addition, I had the opportunity to attend to a research colloquium at the University of Tartu, entitled “Depoliticisation, necropolitics, performativity ; critical explanation of Lukashenka’s regime” presented by researchers Katsiaryna Lozka & Andrey Makarychev. Albeit not directly centered on my research subject, this colloquium further enhanced my understanding of poststructuralist theoretical approach, and its concrete application in political science, which is all the more relevant given my focus on the official discourses of political elites from a critical perspective anchored in post-positivist thinking.

In Glasgow, my meetings with A. Cheskin were more focused on the reformulation of my research puzzle, which initially focused on the disparity between official discourse and foreign policy actions of France vis-à-vis Russia. Thanks to the support of Prof. Cheskin, I have on the one hand modified the framing of my research puzzle, by including the British case in a comparative approach, which aims to put into perspective the foreign policies of France and the UK towards Russia. In other words, I have reoriented my project towards a comparative analysis of the relationship between the rhetoric of the British and French political elites with regard to Russia, and the British and French foreign policy practices towards Russia. On the other hand, I further elaborated my research’s theoretical framework by drawing on contributions from the field of critical geopolitics (cf. Dalby 1991 ; Ó Tuathail & Agnew 1992 ; Ó Tuathail 1996 ; Toal 2017, inter alia), through A. Cheskin’s suggestions. In turn, this process substantially helped me reframe the problematization of my research project, as well as the main hypotheses I suggest to explain this puzzle, leaning on three of this field of study’s main concepts: geopolitical field, culture, and condition.

Moreover, I also had the opportunity to meet several PhD students working under the supervision of Prof. Morozov in Tartu and Prof. Cheskin in Glasgow, and to have interesting and fruitful conversations with them about our respective thesis projects.

Overall, this research trip helped me considerably to better define the theoretical and methodological parameters of my research, as well as to adapt my thesis project in the perspective of the criticisms that were made of it, and allowed me to develop lasting contacts with researchers, who share the same academic interests as I do.

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