The evolution of the consular institution (with Halvard Leira)
in Diplomatic tenses
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This chapter is co-written with Halvard Leira and discusses the evolution of what we have come to call the consul. The first part looks at consular work avant la letter. We discuss the emergence of intermediary functions between a polity or a group within a polity and a group from another polity and excavate the phenomenon’s Muslim origins. We trace how, beginning in the sixth century BCE, the consular institution evolved to reach a tipping-point in the Eastern Mediterranean at the beginning of the second millennium CE, as the judge of a trading colony. A second tipping-point was brought on by the emergence of sovereignty in Europe, which transformed the judge into a representative of the state. This tipping-point was reached in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. A short century afterwards, a third tipping-point enveloped the consular institution in the emergent unitary foreign services. We end by speculating that with the increased density of global communication, the consular institution may be on the way to a return to separate institutions and a new tipping-point.

Diplomatic tenses

A social evolutionary perspective on diplomacy


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