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Global Dialogues

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Political Storytelling: From Fact to Fiction

Frank Gadinger, Martina Kopf, Aysem Mert, and Christopher Smith (eds.)

Global Dialogues 12, Duisburg 2016

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Facts don’t speak for themselves they need to be told. And how and who tells them has significant implications. Recent political events such as the global refugee crisis, the Greek-EU bailout negotiations and the Russia-Ukraine crisis are apt examples of the malleability of facts, showing that truth itself is contested, and the only way to transform vague descriptions into meaningful, coherent interpretations of 'reality' is to utilize the persuasive power of storytelling with all its intended and unintended consequences.

Despite increasing interest, and the linguistic turn in the social sciences, the role of fiction and narrative in explaining, representing and inventing identities and frames as well as giving meaning to political practices has been largely absent. In order to begin to change this, this Global Dialogue focuses on narrative and fiction as a critical, albeit under-researched, element in the social sciences and brings together different disciplines from the social sciences and development studies to literature and cultural studies to reflect on these various matters. This multi-disciplinary publication is the result of a workshop that took place in Duisburg in May 2015, which also sought to expand on how academic work in the social sciences is analyzed, written, and presented. The contributions are inspired and expand on this spirit and the various issues discussed at this event.

The interplay between fact and fiction and the impact of narratives on our understanding of politics have significant implications for how politics is perceived and how cooperation becomes an achievable, realistic goal. The contributions of this edition go to show that political life in the 21st century is increasingly complex and can only be grasped by taking these hitherto underrepresented aspects into consideration. We need to take seriously literature, films, video games and other mediums as objects of investigation if we are to begin to fully comprehend the diverse cultural embeddedness of policies. This contribution seeks to do just that, and calls upon scholars to foster a continuing global dialogue on narrative and fiction as constitutive elements in politics.

(from the introduction by the editors)

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