Diplomatic Cooperation: An Evolutionary Perspective

Bell School Public Lectrue


Professor Iver B. Neumann, LSE


APCD Lecture Theatre, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU


Thursday, 3 August, 2017 - 12:00 to 13:15

Public Lecture co-hosted by the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University

The last century has seen a series of books, essays, and even blogs on diplomacy that advertise themselves as somehow evolutionary. However, almost all of them use the concept of evolution in the everyday sense of emergence. They do not make reference to evolutionary theory, and they do not try to understand diplomacy as an institution evolved by the species. I take the perspective that diplomacy is an emergent institution shaped by its social and material environment. Humanity shapes diplomacy, and diplomacy shapes humanity. An evolutionary frame provides us with a kind of longue durée overview. Further, I introduce and apply the idea of evolutionary tipping-points to the study of diplomacy. Tipping-points are the historical moment when long-term selection processes crystallise in diplomatic institutionalisation. I identify six such tipping-points, and speculate about the emergence of a seventh, which challenges the present hierarchy of diplomatic agents.

Iver B. Neumann is a Norwegian political scientist and social anthropologist. He is the Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is also a long-time associate at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and adjunct professor in international relations at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He specialises in social theory, historical international relations, the study of Russian and Norwegian foreign policy, and diplomacy.




Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs

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