Towards an Emotional Geography of Diplomacy: Insights from the United Nations Security Council

Authors: Alun Jones*, University College Dublin
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: Emotions, Diplomacy, United Nations, Security Council, Syria
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper I progress an emotional geography of diplomacy by considering emotions as part of calculative performative action on the part of diplomats. In doing so, I seek to move the focus away from what emotion is to what emotion, as an embodied sociality, seeks to do to the alteration or reproduction of geopolitical relations. This unique focus on the calculative dimensions of emotional usage in diplomacy is a central though unexplored dimension of emotional geopolitics and one that I consider supports a perspective in which emotions are not depoliticized or trivialized, but situated, historicized and relational and which may be mobilized for political purposes. Drawing upon Hochschild’s (1979) seminal work on emotional interaction and the notion of ‘framing’ and ‘feeling’ rules, I explore the use of emotion in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) an emotionally poignant and powerful context for the study of emotional diplomacies. Using empirically rich materials derived from interviews with Security Council delegations, the paper’s aims are threefold. First, I explore the different ways in which emotions are perceived, displayed, and acted upon by diplomats in this international, inter-cultural geopolitical body. Second, I investigate the ways in which embodied emotions are distinctively connected to specific sites and spaces, and demonstrate the complexities of their usage. Finally, using a case study of Russian-UK emotional exchanges, I show that research on emotional diplomacies must be sensitive to the specific social and cultural assumptions over what particular emotions mean and do in altering and reproducing geopolitical relations.

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