Vision Documents, Nation Branding and the Legitimation of Non-democratic Regimes

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Documents play a vital role in constructing political regimes and their geopolitical relations. In this article, we analyse a particular type of document – the 21st century national vision – and examine its political work. Often glossy (digital) documents featuring simple slogans, fantastic plans, and claims to global relevance and prestige, national visions make specific futures present and close off room for alternative interpretations. Combining work in critical geopolitics with research on nation branding and authoritarian legitimation, we argue that national vision documents are productive – rather than merely reflective – of geopolitical scripts and the future they make possible. Analysing this practice in three image-savvy non-democratic regimes – Kazakhstan, Qatar and Thailand – we show how such scripts are simplified in national vision documents and displace the complexity of the spaces they claim to represent. The oversimplified abstractions they present then resonate widely in national and public discourse, where they obscure struggles over national identity, directions of economic development, and the nature of political orders. Rather than superficial branding documents, national visions are key documents for the making of authoritarian regime legitimation claims today.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)288-318
Publication statusPublished - 2024

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - vision documents, nation branding, authoritarian legitimation, future imaginaries, geopolitical scripts

ID: 334303297