The Geography of Diplomacy

Herman van der Wusten and Virginie Mamadouh

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies

Published in print March 2010 |
Published online January 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190846626 | DOI:

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  • Diplomacy and Consular Relations
  • Political Geography


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The fields of geography and diplomacy are closely intertwined. The traditional view of diplomacy describes it as the conduct of statecraft in all the nonviolent manifestations of external relations. Statecraft encompasses the responses to security concerns, the regulation of transboundary flows, and the pursuance of a state’s material interests and the projection of positive perceptions concerning the state to the outside world. Diplomacy can also be more narrowly defined as an institution dealing with these matters in the preparatory and implementation stages of the foreign policy cycle with a distinctive, carefully recruited, and socialized personnel. In the nineteenth century, European diplomacy was overwhelmingly dominated by the major powers. Small powers were only occasionally involved, and some countries like China were practically forced into diplomatic relations with Western powers as European influence expanded. Diplomacy got a niche in the European state system. Of relevance in this context is the field of critical geopolitics, which investigates and deconstructs geopolitical reasoning—that is, the geographical assumptions and claims in the making of world politics. The engineering of geographical representations by diplomats is a new topic in international relations. Two concepts have been introduced to deal with attempts to win the “hearts and minds” of foreign audiences: public diplomacy and nation branding. Future prospects for diplomacy result from efforts to reshape the field’s identity—civilized, effective interaction across divides—in appropriate formats for a new period.

Keywords: geography; diplomacy; foreign policy; diplomatic relations; Europe; critical geopolitics; diplomats; international relations; public diplomacy; nation branding

Article.  11826 words. 

Subjects: Diplomacy and Consular Relations ; Political Geography

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