Dates: 11-12 Juin 2018
Date limite de réponse à l’appel: 1er avril 2018
Gender may not always be the first topic that comes to mind when discussing international relations, but it has a heavy bearing on diplomatic issues. It surfaces regularly in the news, whether in the 2015-2016 controversy over the Vatican’s refusal to accept a homosexual ambassador from France, or in 2017 with the first group photo of NATO spouses to include a male leader’s husband. Scholars have not left this field of research unexplored, and a recent collection of essays edited by Jennifer A. Cassidy examines in depth the gender dynamics of twentieth-century diplomacy. But what was the situation like in the early modern world ?
While ambassadorial positions were monopolised by men, women could and did perform diplomatic roles, both officially and unofficially. From heads of state like Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great to salon hostesses receiving diplomats from abroad, from the Paix des Dames signed by two royal women in 1529 to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s journey to Constantinople, women appear regularly in diplomatic contexts. Nor were gender performances always normative during this period, as shown by the eighteenth-century transgender ambassador, the Chevalier d’Eon. Literary and artistic masterpieces celebrating the signing of peace treaties, moreover, often give a prominent role to the female figure, thus questioning the assumption that the world of diplomatic negotiations was entirely male-centred. After all, certain ideas that are normally linked to masculinity, such as aggressiveness, are not easily reconciled with the practice of diplomacy.
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