The Diplomat’s Music Test: Branding New and Old Diplomacy at the Beginning of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

  • Damien Mahiet
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


In the debates on the best way to conduct diplomacy, music marks a divide between practitioners of the new and the old. From the middle of the twentieth century to the present, music has been a flagship of new programs in cultural and public diplomacy. Conversely, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, musical diplomacy appeared to betray a misguided attachment to Ancien Régime practices and the enjoyments of good society. These opposite assessments both foreground the social composition of international relations and the ways music can inform it. Indeed, music and dance test a diplomat’s very conception of who makes up the diplomatic scene and how. Not surprisingly, the branding of diplomacies as old or new has tended to obfuscate the broader spectrum of practices in either of the time periods considered in this chapter. A component of protocol, music plays a part in the conventional script of official interactions while allowing the host to underscore cultural differences, power hierarchies, and cooperative aspirations. Music thus offers occasions for faux pas, misinterpretation, snubs, and other out-of-character communications, but it also provides opportunities to build affiliation and redefine the roles adopted in negotiations.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Damien Mahiet
    • 1
  1. 1.Cogut Institute for the HumanitiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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