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Sublime diplomacy: Byzantine, Early Modern, Contemporary

Neumann, Iver B. (2006) Sublime diplomacy: Byzantine, Early Modern, Contemporary. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 34 (3). pp. 865-888. ISSN 0305-8298

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Identification Number: 10.1177/03058298060340030201


There are three main periods when the sublime has been theorised: antiquity, the eighteenth century, and the present. Using exemplary texts from each period as a baseline, the article investigates to what extent we may say that diplomacy is sublime by the lights of its own contemporary standards. The first main part reads Byzantine diplomacy as sublime in the sense discussed by Longinus in Peri hupsous. The key was to sublimate barbarian envoys to the glory of the Empire and, ultimately, God by stimulating and if possible overwhelming all their senses. The second part reads early modern diplomacy against Edmund Burke's On the Sublime and Beautiful. This diplomacy was sublime in that it kept imminent terror away. The third part draws on Jean-François Lyotard's work to argue that contemporary diplomacy is not sublime in the narrow sense given by Lyotard, which is that it may produce something qualitatively new, but that it is sublime in the weaker sense that its task emerges as seemingly infinite. I conclude that different epistemes produce compatible theories of the sublime and diplomatic practices, and that contemporary diplomacy's claim to being sublime is increased by its lingering ability to produce sublime effects in the Byzantine and Burkean senses.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2006 Millennium: Journal of International Studies
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2013 10:29
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:32

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