Speakers series - Jason Dittmer
Diplomatic Material: Affect, assemblage, and foreign policy
- 4 May 2023
- Watch on Youtube
In this talk, which is based on the book of the same name, I offer a counterintuitive reading of foreign policy by tracing the complex role of mediating materials in shaping the decisions and actions of diplomats and policymakers. Bringing new materialism to bear on international relations, I focus not on what the state does in the world, but on how the world operates within the state through the circulation of humans and nonhuman objects. From examining how paper storage needs impacted the design of the British Foreign Office Building to discussing the 1953 NATO decision to adopt the .30 calibre bullet as the standard rifle ammunition, I highlight the contingency of human agency within international relations. In this vision of diplomacy, which eschews stasis, structural forces, and historical trends in favour of dynamism and becoming, the international community is less a coming-together of states than it is a convergence of media, things, people, and practices. In this way, I locate power in the unfolding of processes on the micro level, thereby reconceptualizing our understandings of diplomacy and international relations.
Dr Jason Dittmer is Professor of Political Geography and Head of the Department of Geography at University College London. His research has emphasised the importance of media in shaping political subjectivities, from superhero comics to military museum exhibitions to diplomatic papers. His current work, however, is on Gibraltar and the role of materiality in its evolution from a military fortress into an emergent polity.
Dr Jason Dittmer is the author of:
- Diplomatic Material: Affect, Assemblage, and Foreign Policy (Duke University Press, 2017)
- Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero: Metaphors, Narratives, and Geopolitics (Temple University Press, 2013)
- Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity (Rowman and Littlefield, 1st ed. 2010; 2nd ed. 2019)
He is also the editor (or co-editor) of:
- Geopolitics: An Introductory Reader (Routledge, 2014)
- Ashgate Research Companion to Media Geography (Ashgate, 2014)
- Comic Book Geographies (Franz Steiner, 2014)
- Mapping the End Times: American Evangelical Geopolitics and Apocalyptic Visions (Ashgate, 2010)