Iver B. Neumann
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The evolution of diplomacy
in Diplomatic tenses
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The chapter complements historical discussions of diplomacy by understanding its emergence in terms of social evolution. I draw on Eldredge and Gould’s idea of punctuated equilibria or tipping-points, understood as the culmination of long-term trends. Taking note of two tipping-points for human cooperation generally, namely big-game hunting and classificatory kinship, I go on to identify four tipping-points for diplomacy. These are regular and ritualized contacts between culturally similar small-scale polities; regular and ritualized contacts between culturally different large-scale polities; permanent bilateral diplomacy; and permanent multilateral diplomacy. I round off by discussing what seems to be a trend on its way to become a new tipping-point, namely that states increasingly hybridize their diplomacy by working with and through non-state actors.

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Diplomatic tenses

A social evolutionary perspective on diplomacy

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