The Senkaku /Diaoyu Island Dispute: A MacGuffin?

The Senkaku /Diaoyu Island Dispute: A MacGuffin?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 - 5:00pm
Venue: 
Daherdorf Room, Founder's Building, St Antony's College
Speaker(s): 
Professor Todd Hall (St Anne's, Oxford)
Convenor: 
Rosemary Foot
Series: 
East Asia Seminar

 

Traditional approaches to territorial conflicts would suggest that the value of a disputed territory—be it strategic, economic, religious, or historical—drives conflict. Standard explanations of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute often fit this trope, pointing to the military or economic benefits possessing the islands would confer upon the claimant states.  This presentation takes a different view, arguing that it is not the value of the islands that drives the conflict, but rather the role of the islands as a tangible object of conflict that generates their value.  Drawing upon the concept of the MacGuffin—a plot device in movies that serves to produce dramatic conflict between protagonists—this talk will examine the ways in which the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute has become the centre of a dangerous contest between Japan and the People’s Republic of China. 

Professor Hall, PhD, University of Chicago 2008, has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton and Harvard, as well as visiting scholar appointments at the Free University of Berlin, Beijing’s Tsinghua University, and the University of Tokyo. Formerly Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Prof Hall joined Oxford in 2014. Research interests include international relations theory; the intersection of emotion, affect, and foreign policy; and Chinese foreign policy. Recent publications include articles in Asian Security, International OrganizationInternational SecurityInternational Studies Quarterly, International Studies Review, Political Science Quarterly, and Security Studies. His Cornell University Press book, titled Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage, was recently named co-recipient of the International Studies Association's 2016 Diplomatic Studies Section Book Award.