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Pirat Stories: Narratology and the Romantic Turn in IARRRH

Alexander Spencer
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – LMU
Alexander Spencer
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – LMU
Open Panel

Abstract

Piracy has recently re-emerged as a topic of international politics. However, there is comparatively little theoretically informed academic research on contemporary maritime piracy especially in Political Science and International Relations. The paper will take a constructivist approach to piracy and examine the construction of the contemporary ‘pirate’ in discourse and contrast that to the constitution of the ‘terrorist’. While ‘pirates’ were previously considered ‘hostis humani generis’, the enemies of humanity, they are now predominantly constituted as poor fishermen who are forced into piracy due to a lack of alternatives. The paper will suggest that popular cultural narratives of piracy such as films, books and seemingly meaningless practices such dressing our children up as pirates for a fancy-dress party, have greatly shaped our perceptions of contemporary piracy and ultimately influence our reactions to such a phenomena. Although this Johnny-Depp-like narrative of a ‘pirate’ is now being challenged by concepts such as ‘maritime terrorism’ which tries to link pirates and terrorist, the paper suggested that the culturally embedded narratives and practices in films, books or fancy dress parties are too strongly embedded to be seriously challenged by the narrative of ‘maritime terrorism’.