For diplomacy: Representation and the study of international relations

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People engaged in international relations/international studies (IR/IS) should study more diplomacy, especially since diplomacy is reviving in the aftermath of the Cold War. In methodological and theoretical terms, diplomacy has fallen afoul of the old arguments between diplomatic historians and IR/IS theorists. In prescriptive terms, it has fallen foul of critical perspective on states, their practices, and their rationales. Advocates of diplomacy and its study have also contributed to its isolation by presenting it as an exclusive and esoteric practice. Nevertheless, an opportunity now exists to bring the study of diplomacy to center stage in IR/IS, and in so doing, to revive the flagging conversations among its subfields. Perspectives that focus on the construction of ambiguous identities offer a way of reinterpreting diplomacy, providing a richer account than positivist approaches. Diplomacy, seen in terms of representation of constructed identities, is not a residual of the modern state system, but transcends it and constitutes that which is particular to the kinds of human relations in which IR/IS is interested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-57
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


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