HomeDiplomacies - call for papers for the Terrain journal

Diplomacies - call for papers for the Terrain journal


Appel à contribution de la revue « Terrain »

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Published on Monday, February 04, 2019 by Céline Guilleux


À l'heure où la diplomatie traditionnelle héritée du congrès de Vienne connaît des bouleversements profonds, ce numéro de Terrain entend approfondir sa compréhension par le comparatisme. Invitant à une plongée dans d’autres diplomaties, il accordera la primauté, selon la ligne éditoriale de la revue, aux études de cas et à l’ethnographie. Les doctrines diplomatiques y seront interrogées à la lumière des pratiques concrètes des acteurs, en partant du principe que la diplomatie est d’abord un art de la communication. Qui assure la fonction de diplomate dans les sociétés qui n’en disposent pas traditionnellement ? Quel rapport (délégation, incarnation, etc.) le lie au collectif au nom duquel il parle ? Quelles procédures de traduction met-il en œuvre entre mondes langagiers, conceptuels et politiques hétérogènes ? Qu’implique la multiplication des échelles désormais concernées par le jeu diplomatique ? À quoi enfin la diplomatie s’oppose-t-elle ?


Issue coordinated by Emmanuel de Vienne and Chloé Nahum-Claudel


Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping exemplify through their very differences some far-reaching transformations of global diplomacy. The first makes an unprecedented use of new mediato communicate directly with other heads of state (and with his own voters), in the process short-circuiting embassies and their traditional 'dark arts'. The second seems to bypass diplomacyaltogether, relying instead on a mix of brutal irony and, increasingly, brute force. Finally, the thirdpursues an explicit doctrine, a 'new silk road' (Eckman 2018, Zhao 2018) which, circumventing theWestphalian model of alliances, relies on bilateral partnerships in support of an ambitious economicand foreign policy. China relies extensively on soft power (Confucius institutes diffusing "Chineseculture" and teaching Chinese abroad, quest for international respectability...), while also castingitself as a bridgehead to a new, non-Western diplomatic model. The practices and principlesinherited from the Vienna Congress have indeed lost their universality in the face of globalgeopolitical reconfigurations (Badie 2018), and of the multiplication of type and scale of actorsinvolved in diplomatic relations (towns, regions, publics, NGOs, multinational companies,indigenous groups...).

Alongside these transformations in conventional international diplomacy, the figure of the'diplomat' has also been evoked in the social sciences in connection with increasing efforts toaddress and include non-human entities. Indeed, the turn of the century saw a set of newcosmopolitical proposals (Stengers 2007, Latour 2007, Descola 2005): where Kant had sought toextend citizenship to the whole of humanity, these new proposals drew on a principle of symmetryto reach further still. They sought to provide equal recognition to worlds and beings whosecomposition eschewed the Western distinction between nature and culture. But how can such beingsbe represented, how can their voice be heard in the political arena? This new diplomacy has been akey theme for Bruno Latour, who for instance gathered together students in the Theatre desAmandiers to act out a 'Conference of Parties' which included currently unrepresented actors, suchas mountains, the air, the ocean or animals. Yet while this enlarged cast of characters was clearlyinspired by comparative ethnographic examples, the form of the negotiation remained within aclassically Western tradition: a select group of representatives and mediators assembled aroundnegotiating tables in exclusive meeting rooms away from the general public.

For indeed societies do not simply differ in terms of the composition of the world, that is to say, inwhether or not they include non-humans in the social. They differ also, and perhaps morefundamentally, in the ways in which they conceive self-other relations. Peace and war, enmity andsolidarity, rivalry and cooperation, are not everywhere in mutual opposition – they can becombined. The norms of legitimate communication and appropriate negotiation also vary, andanthropologists have long been interested in the –occasionally productive – misunderstandings andfrictions such different assumptions can cause (Sahlins 1979). The very idea of diplomacy in thestrict sense – the delegation to an official representative of a power of negotiation with a foreign group – is far from universal. This vision is rooted in the historical emergence of a system of nation-states, and can be usefully contrasted with alternative models – rather as Claude Levi-Strauss spokeof the "foreign policy" of the Nambikwara in order to highlight the aporias of our own.

This issue of Terrain therefore seeks to explore other diplomacies, foregrounding with an emphasison ethnography and case studies, in line with the journal's editorial policy. Considering diplomacyto be first and foremost an art of communication, we shall examine diplomatic doctrines in light ofactors' concrete practices. Who takes on the functions of the diplomat in societies which do nottraditionally have such a role? What type of relationship (delegation, incarnation...) ties this personto the group in whose name they speak? What procedures of translation do they bring to bear onlinguistic, conceptual and political worlds? What are the implications of the increasingly multi-scalar nature of the diplomatic game? And what, finally, is the opposite of diplomacy?

With an eye to decolonising this art, we shall pay special attention to the diplomacy of the defeated.For it is typically the vanquished who, historically, have been obliged to be creative. In Europe, therole of diplomat as a permanent delegate to a foreign court (rather than as a mere temporary envoyor negotiator) emerged in Renaissance Italy, at a time of political fragmentation and weakness in theface of French and Habsburg Empires. At the congress of Vienna, Talleyrand saved France'sposition as a key player in the balance of European powers, while Napoleon was heading for hissecond defeat. More recently, the Enawenë Nawe managed, despite their vanishingly smallnumbers, to become a full-fledged diplomatic interlocutor of the Brasilian state in relation to theconstruction of hydroelectric dams (Nahum-Claudel 2017). Finally, in the 1980s, as China began torise again under Deng Xiaoping, the country's diplomatic doctrine – "hiding one's talents, bidingone's time" – turned precisely on seeming weaker than it actually was. This doctrine persisted intothe 2000s, well after China had left behind its period of objective fragility.

Submissions can of course focus on the specialists of mediation with non-humans traditionally studied by anthropologists (shamans, priests, mediums), as long as their activity also aims toinfluence another human collective. This restriction is grounded in the observation that humanbeings are more difficult to convince than divinities.

Submission guidelines

Aside from standard academic articles (8000 words), the issue will also include "portfolios" – shortessays built around a collection of images – and "narratives" (4000 words) – descriptive vignettes ofencounters, based on archival or ethnographic material.

If you would like to contribute, please submit a title and 300 word abstract

by the 1s5 of March 2019

to the editors of Terrain: terrain.redaction@cnrs.fr

Submission deadline for articles: December 15th of April, 2019.

Reading suggestions

  • Badie, Bertrand, 2018. Quand le Sud réinvente le monde, essai sur la puissance de la faiblesse,Paris, La Découverte.
  • Descola, Philippe, 2005. Par-delà nature et culture, Paris, Gallimard.Eckman, Alice (dir.), 2018. La Chine dans le monde, Paris, CNRS Éditions.
  • Latour, Bruno, 2007. « 2. Quel cosmos ? Quelles cosmopolitiques ? », in Jacques Lolive & OlivierSoubeyran (dir.), L’émergence des cosmopolitiques, Paris, La Découverte, p. 69-84.
  • Lévi-Strauss Claude, 1949. « La politique étrangère d’une société primitive », Politique étrangère,no 2, p 139-152.
  • Nahum-Claudel, Chloé, 2017. Vital Diplomacy. The Ritual Everyday on a Dammed River inAmazonia, New York, Oxford, Bergahn.
  • Ruggiero, Raffaele, 2018. « Castiglione à la cour de Charles Quint. La langue et les pratiques de ladiplomatie italienne à la Renaissance », Cahiers d’études italiennes [En ligne], 27, mis en ligne le30 septembre 2018, consulté le 07 octobre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cei/5239 ;DOI : 10.4000/cei.5239.
  • Sahlins, Marshall, 1979. « L’apothéose du capiraine Cook », in M. IZARD & P. SMITH (éd.), Lafonction symbolique : essais d’anthropologie, Paris, p. 307-343.
  • Stengers, Isabelle, 2007. «1. La proposition cosmopolitique», in Jacques Lolive& OlivierSoubeyran (dir.), L’émergence des cosmopolitiques, Paris, La Découverte, p. 45-68.
  • Zhao, Yongchen, 2018. "Dialectical Unity of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Diplomacy", Chinainternational Studies, no 70, p. 15-36.


  • Friday, March 15, 2019


  • diplomatie, affaires étrangères, négociation, représentation politique,


  • Emmanuel de Vienne
    courriel : emmanueldevienne [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Emmanuel de Vienne
    courriel : emmanueldevienne [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Diplomacies - call for papers for the Terrain journal », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, February 04, 2019, https://calenda.org/553287

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