The evolution of visual diplomacy
in Diplomatic tenses
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Extant literature on diplomacy is thoroughly text-oriented. While texts are obviously very central indeed to diplomacy, diplomacy precedes literacy as a phenomenon, and diplomats still spend large chunks of their working time on planning for and executing what we may call visual work. Beginning with a discussion of how the visual emerged in diplomacy, Chapter 4 goes on to lay down the groundwork for the study of visual diplomacy in three ways. First, it establishes diplomacy’s visual modalities – that is, how seeing is constitutive of this particular social institution relative to other social institutions. Secondly, it draws attention to the importance of the diplomatic practices that make the visual visible – that is, how diplomats spread images to wider audiences. Thirdly and in conclusion, it draws up a taxonomy of three visual strategies used for this purpose – a hegemonic and Western strategy, a national strategy, and a strategy that is spiteful of Western hegemony. The power differentials involved between these strategies make visual diplomacy constitutive of the lingering Western hegemony in international relations at large.

Diplomatic tenses

A social evolutionary perspective on diplomacy


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