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Difference in Everyday Life. Diplomacy as a Collective Practice in Early Modern Istanbul

In order to overcome the binary opposition of European and Ottoman diplomacy, this project examines the meaning of difference within everyday diplomacy (mainly English) in early modern Istanbul. By focusing on actors and networks, 'New Diplomatic History' has considerably extended the field of early modern diplomacy, not least with regard to diplomacy outside the 'European society of princes'. However, most of these studies concentrate on 'first rank'-diplomats, i.e. often noble ambassadors. Moreover, they mainly analyse strongly ritualised forms of cultural encounters such as audiences and other courtly ceremonial. In return, this perspective only allows a limited view on the actual meaning of differences, whether they be linguistical, cultural, religious or political. Starting here, the project shifts the perspective in two crucial ways: Firstly, it broadens the range of – male and female – actors and by doing so no longer conceptualises diplomacy as an individual performance of 'great men' but as a 'collective practice'. Secondly, by following an extended concept of diplomacy, it no longer focuses on audiences and other courtly ceremonies, but on the everyday life. This involves, for example, administrative processes within the embassies, the communication within the 'diplomatic milieu' as well as information gathering and espionage. The aim is to look behind highly ritualised encounters and their symbolic conflicts, and by doing so to reassess Europe’s (diplomatic) borders.