Diplomacy & Culture

The Diplomacy & Culture group studies the history and practice of diplomacy as a way of opening research avenues about the intersection of politics and culture, as well as, more generally, of the social sciences and the humanities. Through a series of discrete lectures and discussions the group would engage with the ways in which diplomatic theory and practice, from the pre-modern world to the present, raise issues about the relationship between language, representation, and power.

Diplomacy is a political practice that is also a cultural practice. From its modern origins in fifteenth-century Italy diplomatic networks have been centrally linked to the transmission of culture. At the level of diplomatic theory, writers as diverse as Machiavelli and Kissinger offer reflections on the nature of negotiation and representation that include reflections on the nature of fiction-making, on history, and on language. At the level of practice, the history of diplomacy is also the history of cultural influence--of gifts, of persuasion, of symbolic representations of power. Literature, art, and music are all deeply imbricated in the history of diplomacy, even as diplomatic practice and theory draw upon the resources of the cultural field in the dynamics of negotiation. From Demosthenes to Wikileaks, both culture and diplomacy share a concern for the circulation of objects and the circulation of information. Books, paintings, poems, animals, secrets, encomia, and time are all tokens in the game of diplomatic negotiation.