Dialogue and Diversity in Diplomatic Interaction
International Interdisciplinary Symposium, University of Hamburg, 3-5 June 2010
The project was financed by a Symposium Grant of the VolkswagenFoundation. It was directed in cooperation with Professor Karin M Fierke, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews, Scotland.
In his inaugural address, U.S. President Barack Obama signalled a departure from the policies of the Bush administration in, among others, stating an intent to extend the hand of dialogue to those who were willing to unclench their fists. His promise highlights a return to an emphasis on dialogue and diplomacy in place of the excessive reliance on the threat or use of military force that had characterized the previous administration. While there is a substantial literature on diplomacy and - more specific to the conflict resolution processes of the 1990s - dialogue, the prospect of an increasingly non-Euro-centric and multipolar world raises some interesting and under-explored questions of both a theoretical and empirical nature. While the system of diplomacy has revolved around a set of shared understandings that grew up in the European context, the emergence of Iran, China and India as not only regional but global players raises a question about the role of cultural difference in the diplomatic process. This blind spot in interactive analysis has been noticed by leading scholars on deliberation. Understanding becomes increasingly difficult when interlocutors lack a shared cultural basis. To obtain a better understanding of the impact of cultural difference in international relations in some more detail, the symposium examines how the use of language or assumptions about etiquette, and the emotions attached to these, can contribute to misunderstanding or shape the unfolding of diplomatic interactions. This research question follows directly from the proposers’ respective work on language, security studies and diplomatic interventions and on cultural validation, norms research and inter-national encounters.
Outcomes & Activities
Presentation of a working paper by PIs Professor Antje Wiener and Professor Karin M Fierke at the workshops:
- “The Politics of Talk in International Relations” at the University of Bremen on 27 and 28 July 2010;
- “Meeting in the Middle: The Feasibility and Morality of Compromise in Global Politics“ at the Vienna School of International Studies on 27 and 28 November 2010.