The Practice of Diplomacy

January 12, 2011

I’ve commented before on the need for the field of public diplomacy studies to engage with the concept  and practice of diplomacy.

I’ve been reading the second of edition of Hamilton and Langhorne’s The Practice of Diplomacy which has just come out. This covers the development of diplomacy from ancient times with an emphasis on the organization and administration of diplomacy.  In the context of their narrative  the growing centrality of PD is the consequence of successive  revolutions in diplomatic affairs or new diplomacies.  The development of modern societies and modern systems of governments changes the nature of diplomacy.  Although the world of twitter empowered NGOs is new in historical perspective it is simply the latest stage in the expansion of the diplomatic field that dates back centuries.  One example that seemed particularly contemporary was the efforts of Russian diplomats in late 19th century France to use the media to improve public and market sentiment towards French loans to Russia.

The history of PD is normally written as a direct evolution from the propaganda of the World Wars through the Cold War psychological warfare to the present.  The danger is that this perspective ignores the way that diplomacy has expanded and evolved.  For many countries PD emerges from this expansion of diplomacy rather than from an idea of PD as a separate communications activity.

Hamilton, K., and R. Langhorne (2010) The Practice of Diplomacy: Its Evolution, Theory and Administration. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.


One comment

  1. Thank you for making this important point.

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