Cultural diplomacy designates a policy field, in which states seek to mobilize their cultural resources to achieve foreign policy goals. The nature of those goals, and of the cultural resources mobilized to achieve them, has been subject to historical change, and a range of terminology has been used to designate this kind of policymaking in different national and historical contexts. Nevertheless, the term cultural diplomacy is a viable one for designating this particular area of foreign policy, which is often understood as one component of a state’s broader public diplomacy or, following Joseph Nye’s terminology, its “soft power.” Cultural display and exchange have arguably always played a role in the relations between peoples. With the emergence of the modern state system in the early modern period, such display and exchange became an expression of formal diplomatic relations between courts, yet it is only in the 19th century that we see the emergence of cultural diplomacy in the sense it is understood today: It is no longer a matter of communication between rulers, but rather an expression of national identity directed at an international public. Throughout the 19th century, cultural diplomacy was closely associated with the rivalry of the Great Powers, particularly in the colonial context. However, following the end of the First World War, cultural diplomacy increasingly came to be understood as a means to pursue ideological competition, a trend that became central to the cultural diplomacy of the Cold War. Nevertheless, scholarship’s focus on the cultural dimensions of the confrontation between the two Cold War superpowers has drawn attention away from other varieties of cultural diplomacy in the “Third World” or “Global South,” which sought to establish forms of solidarity between postcolonial nations. The post–Cold War world has been characterized by a shift in the rhetoric surrounding cultural diplomacy, which now frequently contains an economic dimension, as states compete for markets, investments, and attention in the context of neoliberal globalization. Nevertheless, we also see a pluralization of strategies of cultural diplomacy, in which a range of actors tailor their approach to cultural foreign policy according to their own perceived position in a multipolar world. Nevertheless, despite the continued popularity of cultural diplomacy in policymaking circles and the significant attention it has received from researchers in the 21st century, the assessment of the impact of cultural diplomacy remains a challenge.
There are several conceptions of culture which have become dominant in foreign policy analysis (FPA) in particular: culture as the organization of meaning, culture as value preferences, and culture as templates for human strategy. Prior to the 1990s, the Cold War constraints of bipolarity had left little room for idiosyncratic domestic-level variables such as culture to affect FP. However, once systemic constraints lessened and the decision making milieu became more ambiguous, scholars increasingly turned to questions about culture and identity. Using classic frameworks as a jumping off point, early work on national role conception and operational code analysis incorporated culture as a significant filter for decision making. Operational code analysis is another early approach that had elements of culture as part of the decision making context. In addition, there are a few works that investigate culture and FP with a different focus than FPA. But perhaps one of the most notable elements of FPA studies exploring culture is the idea that it need not be viewed as explaining whatever cannot be explained by anything else. Instead of merely an alternative theoretical explanation of state behavior, use of culture in the post-Cold War revival and today reflects an effort not so much to refute neorealism but to look at different questions.
The growth of research on emotion in international relations (IR) has produced a significant body of literature. This body of literature has raised a number of interesting questions, debates, and theoretical positions regarding the agentic properties of international actors and how they are embedded in international structures. Emotions have long been viewed in IR as self-evident and irrational by-products of cognitive processes and have, until recently, remained largely implicit and undertheorized. The first wave of research lamented the discipline’s neglect and marginalization of emotions in mainstream IR theories and concepts. The second wave has turned to specific ways to integrate the consideration of emotion into existing research within specific issue areas, from diplomacy, security, war, and ethnic conflict to transnational actors, institutions, governance, and conflict management. The literature on this topic is so extensive that many even speak of an “emotional turn.” Its intellectual roots stem from various disciplines, such as psychology, neuroscience, sociology, history, and cultural studies, and this diversity is reflected in ongoing challenges of how to study emotions and their political effects in IR. These challenges relate to a number of ontological and epistemological questions, including how to conceptualize emotions, how to capture emotions methodologically, and how to move from the individual to the collective level of analysis. Whatever divergent claims are made by these scholars, there is by now a firm consensus in the discipline that emotions matter for international and global politics.
Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .
Although the study of the international politics of space remains rather descriptive and undertheorized, important progress has been made to the extent that there is already a growing literature examining certain aspects of space activities from an International Relations (IR) theory perspective, reflecting the broader surge of interest in the utilization of space for civilian, military, and commercial purposes. In this regard, this is the first systematic attempt to outline this emerging and vibrant multidisciplinary subfield of IR. In doing so, it covers a substantial body of research on the politics of space that builds on realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, critical theory, poststructuralism, feminism and gender studies, postcolonialism, and eclecticism. The study also discusses a distinctive approach concerned with examining the process of space policy decision-making at different levels of analysis, what can be called “Space Policy Analysis (SPA).” The study concludes by briefly considering possible avenues for future research.
Formal diplomatic recognition of “middle powers” began with the Congress of Vienna, but the concept gained increasing currency after World War II because medium-sized countries like Canada used it to distinguish themselves from smaller states and secure a relatively favorable position in the postwar order. Early definitions of middle powers focused on states that lacked the system-wide influence of great powers but whose resources and capacities were recognized as being more significant than those of small states. The term’s exact meaning remains contested, but early definitions capture three important dimensions of the concept. First, it is inherently relational, from both a material perspective and a social perspective, and often used as a residual category. Some scholars define middle-power status using material factors like geographic size or population, while others emphasize social roles and recognition, but all of these approaches focus on a state’s position, roles, and status relative to other states. Second, the middle-power concept is both state-centric and practitioner-adjacent. National policymakers invoke, reify, and continually reinvent the concept to achieve specific foreign policy objectives. Third, the middle-power concept is bound up with wider debates about global order. Middle powers were long conceptualized as good international citizens and champions of the liberal world order. The rise of “emerging” middle powers raises questions about their orientation toward existing global institutions. Going forward, the most pressing questions about middle powers and their foreign policy behavior will be linked to broader conversations about geopolitical change and the future of contemporary global governance arrangements.