This conference aims to gather together scholars from all relevant disciplines who have diplomacy as their main subject of interest. The New Diplomatic History (NDH) network was founded several years ago to promote the study of diplomacy, diplomats, their institutions, and the cultural, political and social contexts which shape them and in which they function. This ‘rediscovery’ of diplomacy and the diplomat has involved re-assessing the role and identities of those involved in the diplomatic realm, and how the distinctions between official state diplomats and non-state actors have become blurred. This involves both a ‘broadening’ and a ‘deepening’ of diplomatic studies: a widening of its field of interest, and a focusing of its attention on the individual, the particular and the ephemeral. NDH therefore welcomes the introduction of approaches from cultural studies and the social sciences, and promotes the use of new methods from oral history, prosopography, memory studies, gender studies, discourse analysis, the sociology of knowledge, musicology, the study of emotions, gastronomy, network theory, and the digital humanities to open up new fields of diplomatic investigation.
Special attention is also given to the ‘digital revolution’ in the storage of and production of knowledge. How do we write diplomatic history in a digital age? Sources are being digitized and new digital research tools being developed, and from the 1990s onwards we are dealing with sources that were born digital. How do we handle the challenges of vast amounts of (new) data, how do we critically engage with new kinds of sources, and what opportunities does ‘big data’ offer?
In order to provide structure to this wide variety of approaches, this conference is organised around three broad themes:
1) Borders of Bureaucracy, Diplomacy and Politics
This theme covers the transformation of diplomatic, bureaucratic and political practices in national, transnational and international settings through the last century. How have responsibilities, competences, and norms developed in the field of diplomacy through professionalization and multilateralisation? How have these processes played out and interlinked at the national, transnational and international levels? How should we understand and interpret the changing behavior, rituals, and semiotics of diplomatic activity?
2) The Rise of Global Civil Society and the Role of Transnational Networks
This theme explores how diplomats and ministries of foreign affairs have disputed, adhered to or incorporated competences and discourses from an increasingly global civil society. Transnational networks, social movements and cross-border alliances have transformed the spaces and settings of international politics, particularly through effective media techniques and the use of digital technologies. Many of them have adopted or assumed ‘diplomatic roles’, either in alliance with foreign ministries or entirely separate from them. Are new forms of diplomacy and new diplomatic actors being established? How have diplomacy and diplomats responded to these changes? Has diplomacy as a practice been radically altered?
3) Europe, International Organisations and Diplomacy
This theme investigates how diplomatic practices, responsibilities and norms have changed with the growth of international organisations, and how in turn diplomats have contributed to establishing, shaping, hindering, and running them. In particular, it is evident that the processes of European integration have generated new arenas for diplomatic interaction, both enhancing the political role of the diplomat but also transmuting diplomatic loyalties over time. European integration has reconstituted the very fabric of diplomacy. But how, when and to what degree? How have other international and regional organisations changed, and been changed by, diplomacy?
All paper and panel proposals that address the above subject-areas are welcome. Please send 300-word proposals, together with a one-page CV, to the conference email: NewDH2016@gmail.com