Studies of small state foreign policy tend to draw relatively bleak conclusions when it comes to small state agency. However, I will examine alternative and more positive modalities of small state agency. One such modality is agility, the strategic maneuverability to take advantage of a chancy environment. Besides leading to dangerous rigidities and biases, particular types of foreign policy imageries and heuristics may also facilitate experimental and agile agency. In studying this possibility, Finland is chosen as an illustrative case because historically Finland has faced a particularly constraining geopolitical context and because it has managed to adapt to multiple upheavals and to different geopolitical contexts. The emphasis is on the heuristic dynamics inherent in Finnish foreign policy culture that have allowed it to actively meet the emerging challenges. Instead of taking a detailed historical approach, I seek to understand the role of the relatively flexible and combinable embodied cultural models, i.e. thick images. They allow for agency-related experimentation that may bring added value that allows Finland to exceed the constraints of the brute geopolitical position. After reviewing multiple embodied foreign policy images, I will use them to analyse New Year’s speeches by the Finnish Presidents Ahtisaari and Halonen in order to see how the fickle present is made to resonate innovatively with the known, commonplace, and mythical.

Link to article