Asia-Pacific diplomacies : reading discontinuity in late-modern diplomatic practice
Tan, See Seng
Date of Issue2001
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Practices of representation are productive in that they make international life intelligible. As representational practices, orthodox, diplomatic discourses reduce the heterological 'nature' of diplomatic activity to a single, monological reading. Although historical evidence suggests that diplomatic activities are ambiguous and paradoxical, orthodox discourse, however, explains modern diplomacy as continuous, teleological and guided by common sense - a claim contested here less on grounds of falsity than of crass reductionism. This domesticating predisposition is characteristic of many academic and policybased renditions of Asia-Pacific diplomacy, especially the 'nongovernmental displomacy' genre. Diplomatic discourse never quite realises its absolutist aim in that tension exists between (1) its representational capabilities and (2) the speed of transparency of late-modern diplomatic activites. Following Der Derian's genealogical reading of diplomacy, it is argued that the keen attention to the contradictions and distortions of Asia-Pacific diplomacy reveals the significant extent to which discontinuity matters to our understanding of modern diplomacy. Specifically, it is argued that Asia-Pacific diplomacy is indebted to forces of 'ani-diplomacy' and 'neo diplomacy' that paradoxically threaten its purposes. Several examples of anti- and neo-diplomacy that define aims contrary to the traditional teleology of Asia-Pacific diplomacy - activites which the voices of diplomatic orthodoxy seek incessantly to domesticate - are highlighted.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science::Political institutions::Asia
RSIS Working Papers; 008/01
Nanyang Technological University