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The Prison as Metaphor

Re-Imagining International Relations


Michael Marks

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, scholars of international relations have peppered the field with a wide range of metaphors that serve as vehicles for theorizing about world affairs. Yet as pervasive as metaphors are in international relations theory, theorists’ efforts to employ metaphorical imagery to suggest new ways of thinking have been haphazard and sporadic. In this book, Michael P. Marks suggests a new metaphor with which to conceptualize international relations: the modern prison. Many of the same questions that are asked about the so-called «anarchy» of the international system are also frequently asked of life among prison inmates. Marks finds that lessons from inmate relations can be applied to the study of international affairs. This comparison between the prison and international relations reveals how the construction of human interaction in both realms is infinitely complex.