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At Home with the Diplomats

CIS Seminar Series

CIS welcomes Iver B. Neumann, Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

The discussant for the talk is Geoffrey Wiseman, Professor of the Practice of International Relations, USC.


The talk discusses everyday life in a foreign ministry. Building on five years of field work and two years of archival work, Neumann heads off by discussing the emergence of Foreign Ministries from the late 18th century onwards. The bulk of the talk concerns how diplomats produce knowledge and what it is like being a diplomat. The focus here is what diplomats are doing, what they think they are doing, and the discrepancy between the two. The talk comes to a close with some speculations about the future of diplomacy.


Neumann is Montague Burton Professor at London School of Economics. His current research projects include cooperation with Serbian colleagues, a joint book project on the historical sociology of the Eurasian steppe with Einar Wigen and work on a diplomacy book for Hearst.

He is interested in how the species is organised and in the self- and other-understanding of groups understood as a constitutive element of same. That interest was culled by studying the Soviet Union and ‘the West’ in the 1980s, and then led him to study the everyday practices of diplomacy and of governmentality. He is now taking the same concerns to a study of the historical relationship between nomadic and sedentary polities where the steppe met the forests.

Neumann studied in Norway and Britain, and Norway has been his base until now (twenty five years at  the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, interspersed with stints in MFA, a three-year period as Professor in Russian Studies at Oslo University and as a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence). He teaches in the areas of social theory, IR theory and method (discourse and practice analyses).