Diplomatic Material

Affect, Assemblage, and Foreign Policy

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: 6 illustrations Published: October 2017

Author: Jason Dittmer

Cultural Studies, Geography, Politics > Political Theory

In Diplomatic Material Jason Dittmer offers a counterintuitive reading of foreign policy by tracing the ways that complex interactions between people and things shape the decisions and actions of diplomats and policymakers. Bringing new materialism to bear on international relations, Dittmer focuses not on what the state does in the world but on how the world operates within the state through the circulation of humans and nonhuman objects. From examining how paper storage needs impacted the design of the British Foreign Office Building to discussing the 1953 NATO decision to adopt the .30 caliber bullet as the standard rifle ammunition, Dittmer highlights the contingency of human agency within international relations. In Dittmer's model, which eschews stasis, structural forces, and historical trends in favor of dynamism and becoming, the international community is less a coming-together of states than it is a convergence of media, things, people, and practices. In this way, Dittmer locates power in the unfolding of processes on the micro level, thereby reconceptualizing our understandings of diplomacy and international relations.


"A valuable contribution to the field of political geography.... Dittmer... provides a refreshing take on foreign policy by tracing the material circulations that continually influence how political elites understand the international community." — Ed Bryan, Geopolitics

“The world is a much more complicated place than simple assumptions of international relations between autonomous territorial states often suggest; our task as scholars is to explicate the complexities, and Jason Dittmer has done us all a favour here by offering an exemplary text that shows us both how to do it and why it matters.” — Simon Dalby, Social & Cultural Geography

"Dittmer’s achievement in the book (and perhaps that for which he should be most lauded) is that of dragging insights from the deepest, darkest depths of theoryland into the light of the everyday." — Stephen Legg, Antipode

"Diplomatic Material is an innovative study that substantially broadens how we think about the makings of foreign policy." — John A. Gentry, Perspectives on Politics

"Working at the rich interface of social theory and international relations theory, Jason Dittmer provides a novel and important rereading of diplomatic practice, demonstrating how diplomacy and international relations are profoundly influenced by material and bodily contexts. Diplomatic Material speaks to pressing debates in social theory and international relations, making this important book one of the best in its field." — Mark B. Salter, editor of Making Things International 1 and Making Things International 2

"Jason Dittmer innovatively combines multiple literatures and empirical cases to render familiar issues in novel ways. His engaging writing makes the work accessible to undergraduates. Diplomatic Material will be of interest to those working in diplomacy, assemblage theory, and more-than-human approaches in political geography and international relations." — Merje Kuus, author of Geopolitics and Expertise: Knowledge and Authority in European Diplomacy


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Price: $24.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jason Dittmer is Professor of Political Geography at University College London and the author of Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero: Metaphors, Narratives, and Geopolitics and coeditor of Diplomatic Cultures and International Politics: Translations, Spaces, and Alternatives.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations  ix
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction: Geopolitical Assemblages and Everyday Diplomacy  1
1. Materializing Diplomacy in the Nineteenth-Century Foreign Office  25
2. UKUSA Signals Intelligence Cooperation  49
3. Interoperability and Standardization in NATO  73
4. Assembling a Common Foreign and Security Policy  99
Conclusion  123
Notes  141
Bibliography  161
Index  171
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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