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"Your Past is My Present": The Case of Ukraine

Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 12:00pm to 1:15pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

Does evoking historical parallels change public opinion regarding foreign policy?

Seeking international support to counter Russia’s February 2022 invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has publicly addressed foreign politicians and public in several democratic nations. Media coverage paid special attention to his explicit comparison of Ukraine’s current situation to salient historical events in the audiences' countries.

Since public opinion can influence foreign policy decisions in democracies, we investigate whether evoking the past of the audience's country effectively increases popular support for aiding Ukraine.

Anil Menon and colleagues conducted survey experiments simultaneously in four countries where Zelensky delivered speeches rich in historical parallels – Germany and Israel (Holocaust), United Kingdom (WWII), and the United States (Pearl Harbor and 9/11). Exposure to excerpts from Zelensky's speeches triggered distinctive emotional reactions in all countries consistent with the content tailored for each country.

Only in Israel did exposure increase public support for bolstering Ukraine’s war efforts. Thus, while rhetoric emphasizing past-present commonalities might evoke emotional reactions, its persuasive potential appears limited.

About the Speaker

Anil Menon is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Merced. Previously, he was a Klarman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Government at Cornell University and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.

His research is motivated by three broad questions. How do traumatic experiences – ranging from interstate wars and forced migration to public health crises – shape short- and long-term political attitudes, behaviors, and institutions? What are the historical roots of contemporary patterns of economic and political development? Are rhetorical appeals to the past persuasive?

Cohosts

Institute for European Studies

Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies

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Event Type

Seminar

Departments

Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Government, Institute for European Studies

University Themes

Public Engagement, Research

Website

https://einaudi.cornell.edu/programs/...

Contact E-Mail

pacs@cornell.edu

Contact Name

Mavis Amegah-Dorr

Contact Phone

6072556484

Speaker

Dr. Anil Menon

Speaker Affiliation

University of California, Merced

Speaker Web Site

https://ssha.ucmerced.edu/content/anil-menon

Dept. Web Site

https://einaudi.cornell.edu/programs/reppy-institute-peace-and-conflict-studies

Open To

The Public

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