Narratives and the romantic genre in IR: dominant and marginalized stories of Arab Rebellion in Libya

  • Alexander Spencer
Original Article


The article shows how the rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 was romanticized in the British newspaper media and among the political elite. Combining insights from literary studies and employing a method of narrative analysis which focuses on the elements of setting, characterization and emplotment, it illustrates the process of narrative romanticization by emphasizing story elements which constitute the rebellion in an emotional setting in which the rebel is characterized as a young and brave underdog fighting against a brutal and oppressive regime for an ideal such as democracy, freedom and a better future. While romantic narratives were dominant in the discourse on Libya at the time, other less positive narratives which for example emphasize human right violations by rebels were marginalized through a strategy of silencing, denial, ridicule and justification. While the dominance of romantic narratives of rebellion aided the legitimation of British military intervention, the marginalization of negative counter-narratives contributed to the ignorance of extremism and set a bad precedent for the role of human rights in post-conflict Libya.


Narrative Romance Discourse Constructivism Britain Libya 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Otto-von-Guericke University MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

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