In a new article NUPI’s Research Director Iver B. Neumann shows how diplomacy can be seen as a layered conceptualization. By studying myths, sociabilities and practices he opens the question of diplomacy’s Euro-centrism to empirical examination.
The European diplomacy has its roots in Christian mythology, and has marked diplomatic practices on a global basis. Hence, it privileges those native to that context. In this sense, diplomacy is Euro-centric.
Neumann goes on to argue that diplomacy’s Euro-centrism is not a particularly pressing problem.
- A bigger challenge might be the idea of a uniquely peaceful European diplomacy, he says.
Changing diplomatic practices
Despite its Christian and European roots, contemporary diplomacy has developed itself to become a global institution. At the present, changes to diplomatic practices are mainly initiated incrementally.
Self-reflectiveness about own practices has increased in diplomacy. When dealing with the other self-reflectiveness may ease interaction and make clashes of practices more manageable.
-The most pressing Euro-centric challenge regarding diplomacy lies not with diplomacy’s own myths, sociabilities or practices. It is rather a meta-challenge which concerns how, quite without warrant, diplomacy is regularly defined as historically uniquely European, and uniquely peaceful at that.
A flawed image of peacefulness
In his article, Neumann explains how diplomacy historically has been one of many tools in foreign relations. Other tools, such as invasion, wars and colonization are less peaceful. By studying diplomacy apart from other frames for understanding foreign relations, could lead to a more asymmetrical and more peaceful understanding than they would appear through other frames.
- In the extent that such a privileging of diplomacy paints European agency in a better light than alternative ways to represent it.
Through several mini-case studies he shows how the idea of uniquely peaceful European diplomacy is erroneous.
-Diplomacy is the peaceful aspect of international politics, but it must always be seen as one of several instruments. Other aspects of those relations, such as conquest and colonialization, shows that the European tradition is no more peaceful than other traditions, says Neumann.