Presentability
in Diplomatic tenses
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This chapter discuss how visual diplomacy is actually carried out. Diplomats have to be presentable – that is, ‘clean, smart, or decent enough to be seen in public’ (Oxford English Dictionary). The first part of the chapter discusses why visual and aesthetic aspects tend to be under-communicated by Western practitioners and scholars of politics and diplomacy and accounts for this by pointing to a deep-seated scepticism of visual props and a twentieth-century reaction against Nazi aestheticizing of politics. The second part sets out what it takes to stage a successful visual performance and points to three factors: the agent’s own preparations, audience assessment and mediation to a broader public. The third part uses the typology suggested in Chapter 4 of the book to analyse two particularly successful performances of accreditation and highlight how they succeed because they were deemed to be particularly presentable as a result of being particularly smart and decent, respectively. It also discusses two spiteful performances. In conclusion, I argue that smartness trumps decency and spitefulness.

Diplomatic tenses

A social evolutionary perspective on diplomacy

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