Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

Institute announces new theme, "Rethinking Diplomacy," 2012-13

Tue, October 25, 2011
Institute announces new theme,
Prof. Suri. Photo by Sasha Haagensen.

‘Rethinking Diplomacy” will be the new IHS theme for 2012-13. This year-long project will involve a fundamental and substantive re-thinking of scholarly approaches to diplomacy as a worldwide, multi-disciplinary historical practice.

The theme is particularly timely for two reasons.  First, a large body of new and exciting work is being done on diplomacy in a variety of different formerly understudied areas. “Diplomatic, international, and transnational history are some of the most vibrant subfields in historical studies today,” explains Professor Jeremi Suri, the newly appointed Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy at UT Austin, who will be one of the campus leaders of the project.

As scholars have focused more in recent years on diplomacy within an international framework, addressing non-Western and pre-modern contexts, they have revitalized diplomatic history, creating a broader, more diverse, and more inclusive body of work. It is especially vital that we practice good diplomatic relations within our own scholarly community and help to bring some of this work into creative combination. “IHS provides an excellent forum to help bring scholars across subfields and disciplinary approaches together,” relates Dr. Suri, “and we are in a unique position to get scholars who do not normally communicate much with each other into a productive dialogue.”

Second, Dr. Suri maintains that as a public culture we have devalued diplomacy in many of our behaviors, with a myriad of harmful global effects. Improvements to our discordant relationships with countries around the world are gravely needed, and productive partnerships with our allies are in jeopardy. Now is a crucial time to explore creative possibilities, inspired by historical knowledge. Dr. Suri points out, “There is great work being done in non-Western and pre-modern subfields, also incorporating a more internationalized context. This new scholarship can help us understand diplomacy in comparative and cross-temporal terms, in order to broaden the possibilities for what diplomacy means in the world today.”

The Institute for Historical Studies is pleased to be partnering with the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the Department of Government, the Center for European Studies, and the Program in British Studies, in a cross-campus initiative devoted to “Re-thinking Diplomacy.” 

UT faculty, IHS visiting fellows, and other prominent scholars will bring their own innovative and original research to work together on the project. This ambitious enterprise will contribute not only to a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the history of diplomacy, but also to finding new ways to relate to the rest of the world as partners within a global community. The IHS project and the campus-wide initiative aim to interrogate, stretch, and ultimately re-shape the ways the relations between societies and their representatives are conceptualized.

Additional information about the "Rethinking Diplomacy" theme, about Professor Jeremi Suri, and about applying for a resident fellowship at the Institute for Historical Studies.

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