Background & Qualifications

B.E Civil Engineering UCD 2005; M.A. Security and Conflict Studies DCU 2007; Policy Advisor (Development & Foreign Affairs) European Parliament 2007-2010.

Abstract title

Time, Myth and the Nation: Towards a better understanding of French foreign and military policy


The understanding of a nation draws upon both geography and time, the outline of existence traced as shapes on a map or as a lineage through history.  In contemporary studies of international relations the geographical elements predominate.  Geographical limits demarcate a nation from its neighbour and define institutional powers and boundaries.  Peoples laying claim to new or ancient nationhood seek recognition through the fissure of existing borders and the creation of new lines of territory.  Time, in contrast, serves only to explain.  Considered to be largely synonymous with history, time is something to be remembered and forgotten.

This study proposes to transpose these axes of our understanding and to consider the nation as a function of time.  Building on the work of Benedict Anderson on the role of the nation in filling “empty, homogeneous time”, the study considers how an exploration of this relationship between nation and time can lead to a greater understanding of modern foreign policy decisions.  Myth – in its narrative, cosmological and semiotic functions – is employed as the analytical lens through which the interdependence of nation and time can be better examined.  This theory of myth is then applied to the case of France’s Fifth Republic and to the words and decisions of current French foreign and military policy.  This innovative analytical approach allows for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the nature of modern conflict and of the identification of the Others of the Self of the contemporary nation.