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Hello all!  Audio recordings for our third workshop are now online.  Go give them a listen!

Also, a link to all our recordings from all three workshops has been prepared for you, free of charge.  Why would you turn down something free?


Audio from the second workshop

If you missed last week’s workshop, click on the above link to make up for lost opportunities.  For those who did attend, here is where you can relive the experience!

Call for participation: Spaces of Diplomatic Culture workshop, UCL, 21-22 June 2013

Dear all

A call for participation in the second of three workshops of the ‘Diplomatic Cultures’ research network:

This workshop will focus on the role of space and spatiality in diplomatic exchange and will take place on Friday 21- Saturday 22 June 2013 at University College London. Confirmed keynote speakers are Iver Neumann (International Relations, LSE), Timothy Hampton (French and Comparative Literature, University of California Berkeley) and Herman van der Wusten (Geography, University of Amsterdam). There are a small number of places available for early career researchers working on relevant issues. Priority for places at this workshop will be given to such researchers based in the UK for whom funding for travel is available.  Participation involves preparing a 10 minute presentation on the (changing) spaces of diplomacy viewed through the lens of your research and contributing to group discussions relating to the broad theme of ‘translating diplomatic cultures’ (details here: We are particularly interested in hearing from scholars working on issues around:

–          Digital/ virtual diplomacy

–          Embassies and ambassadorial networks

–          The UN and other international diplomatic fora

–          The production of diplomatic spaces through performance

To apply for a place please contact Fiona McConnell ( with a 200 word summary of your research interests and a short biography by 19th April 2013.

Podcasts of presentations at the first workshop in this series, held at the University of Cambridge in February, are available here: and a third workshop will be held in The Hague on 8-9 November 2013. To join the email list for the network please enter your contact details here:

Audio recording of the first workshop

Audio recordings of all the keynotes, as well as the rapid-fire ‘agenda-setting’ sessions and the final ‘contemporary concerns and issues in diplomacy’ session.

Below is a contribution to the blog by Research Network member Jason P. Rancatore ( Please get in touch if you would like to write for the blog!


In this short piece, I will take up the first theme of the research network concerning the “translation of diplomatic culture.” Let me be clear about my purpose: to briefly articulate and defend a conceptual framework and a possible application so that some discussion over the diverse possibilities for research can be generated.

First, I would like to point out a long-standing research puzzle in diplomatic studies: the persistence of particular modes of doing diplomacy in spite of shifting contexts. Indeed, what motivates much of the criticism from the policy world about diplomacy, and diplomatic organizations like the UN or foreign ministries, is how “old ways” of doing things are the problem. They are antiquated, non-sensical, and resistant to change. The problem, in short, is that these entities condition individuals, by virtue of their culture, to unquestionably follow certain standard operating procedures ill-suited to rapidly changing political contexts. I think this proposition still resonates.

Now, if “old ways” are the problem, then “new ways” are the solution. So, I am suggesting here that we may employ the idea of “translation” to specify this intersection of the new (or strange) and the old (or routine). In addition, we could follow Neumann (2002) in typifying culture as a circuit of discourses and practices (which are only separable analytically). In so doing, our conceptual framework would direct our attention to how language and action is made familiar, if at first strange.

The ideal-typical model in the figure above permits some organization of the framework. Through a process of translation, old and new discursive practices (discourses + practices) are re-configured to constitute an evolving culture. I would suggest that by adopting such a framework, we can bring into relief moments of accommodation and resistance as part of a process of translation.

One question that occupies this research network is the origin of the UN’s culture. In thinking about this question, one starting assumption is to follow Goodrich (1947) who argued that the organizational infrastructure of the League was simply transplanted to the UN. If so, we can look at various equivalent departments and trace the history of their standard operating procedures. One particular section that would be of interest is the League’s Information Section. Reason: today, all of the UN agencies and all of the major international organizations (and perhaps all governments, at many levels) have a public affairs section that is responsible for producing press releases and communiques to the public concerning their activities. This has a history that has roots in a contentious moment in diplomatic practice. At the end of World War I, “open diplomacy” was argued to be the future of international relations. The League of Nations, as an international organization–a diplomatic actor in its own right, but also comprised of diplomats from its member states–formed an Information Section to write and disseminate communiques and press releases regarding its work (see Ranshofen-Wertheimer 1945). This went against the standard operating procedures of diplomats in capital cities around the world (e.g. Nicholson 1939; Satow 1917).

In a sense, the public-ness of diplomacy and international organizations began to take shape with the League, and over time, new discursive practices were introduced and replicated so that these diplomats could manage the demands of their jobs. By recovering historical meaning and action through contemporaneous sources such as memoirs and de-classified cables, we can gain a better understanding of the way in which translation processes unfold. In some moments, we may see accommodation, a simple transplantation of practice, such the format of a press release. In other moments, we may see resistance; and this may be a consequence of an array of factors. Identifying and explaining these factors may be a very useful research task.

Jason P. Rancatore holds a PhD (International Relations) from American University in Washington, DC, where he is currently an adjunct lecturer at the School of International Service. He defended his dissertation, a genealogical study of multilateralism, in December 2012.

Goodrich, Leland (1947) “From League of Nations to United Nations,” International Organization 1(1): 3-21.
Neumann, Iver (2002) “Returning practice to the linguistic turn: the case of diplomacy,” Millennium 31(3): 627-651.
Nicholson, Harold (1939) Diplomacy. New York: Harcourt Brace and Co.
Ranshofen-Wertheimer, Egon (1945) The International Secretariat. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Satow, Ernest (1917) A Guide to Diplomatic Practice. London: Longmans, Green & Co.
Sharp, Paul (2004) “The Idea of Diplomatic Culture and its Sources,” in Intercultural Communication and Diplomacy edited by Hannah Slavik. Malta: DiploFoundation.
Sweetser, Arthur (1946) “From the League to the United Nations,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 246: 1-8.

Our website has been updated with biographies and research interests for the participants in our February workshop. Things are gearing up to a high frenzy here in Diplomatic Cultures HQ!

A final call for participation in the first workshop of the ‘Diplomatic Cultures’ research network ( which will focus on three intersecting issues:

1. the strategies and modes of translation between and across diplomatic cultures

2. the role of space and spatiality in diplomatic exchange

3. the articulation of diplomatic cultures and practices beyond traditional spacesof state-focused diplomacy.

The first of three workshops will take place on Friday 15- Saturday 16 February 2013 at the University of Cambridge and will focus on the theme of ‘Translating diplomatic culture’. Confirmed keynote speakers are Merje Kuus (Geography, University of British Columbia), Costas Constantinou (International Relations, University of Cyprus) and Naoko Shimazu (History Birkbeck University of London). There are a small number of places available for researchers working on relevant issues, and funds are available for travel. Participation involves preparing a 10 minute presentation on the future of diplomacy viewed through the lens of your research and contributing to group discussions relating to the broad theme of ‘translating diplomatic cultures’ (details here: To apply for a place please contact Fiona McConnell ( and Jason Dittmer
( with a 200 word summary of your research interests and a short biography by 17th December 2012.

Further workshops will be held at UCL, London on 21-22 June and in The Hague in early September 2013. To join the email list for the network please enter your contact details here:

…but there was a workshop in London last Friday of which Alasdair Pinkerton has a great round-up:

Your Diplomatic Cultures staff were invited to go but couldn’t make it because of other work commitments. We promise to bring first-hand accounts of such events in the future!

There is an interesting article on digital diplomacy in The Atlantic:

Drawing on recent events, it seems to highlight the tension between message control and the need for open, diverse public engagements that the use of social networks by foreign ministries presents.

William Hague, the British Foreign Minister, recently gave a speech at the British Academy on the kinds of expertise required to have a top-notch foreign service. Both audio and a full transcript are available on the British Academy website: