Publication details [#61006]

Belova, Oksana. 2016. The challenge of reset. A discourse analysis of Barack Obama’s construction of Russia in 2009–12. Journal of Language and Politics 15 (6) : 748–767.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


In this contribution, Obama’s reset in U.S. – Russian relations is viewed in terms of Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory. To link the macro-level of discourse theory to the micro-level of linguistic analysis, the empirical study implements the analysis of indexicality (Chilton 2004) and assumptions (Fairclough 2003) as applied in critical discourse analysis. Obama’s first term representations of Russia were examined in four contexts: global nuclear nonproliferation; Iran and North Korea; the New START Treaty; European ABM system and NATO – Russian relations. Articulations in the first and second contexts exhibited Obama’s strategies to construct Russia as partner in his hegemonic project of global nuclear nonproliferation. Articulations in the third context demonstrated Obama’s strategies of creating different discursive Russias to achieve the ratification of START, whereas no strategies proved successful in mitigating the issue of missile defense. In all four contexts, Obama’s construction of Russia was, to various degrees, permeated by ambiguity.