Contested States, Hybrid Diplomatic Practices and the Everyday Quest for Recognition
International Political Sociology
Oxford University Press (OUP) for International Studies Association
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by OUP. 24-month embargo to be applied on publication
This article examines contested state diplomatic practices with the aim to challenge structural legal-institutional accounts of these actors’ international engagement, which are unsatisfactory in explaining change and acknowledging their agency. Considering contested states as liminal international actors, their diplomatic practices stand out for their hybridity in transcending the state vs. non-state diplomacy dichotomy as well as their structure-generating properties in enabling social forms of international recognition – absent legal recognition. The concept is empirically applied to examine the everyday interaction between the representatives of Palestine and Western Sahara and the EU institutions in Brussels. It is argued that there has been a renewal and expansion of the Palestinian and Sahrawi repertoires of diplomatic practices vis-à-vis the EU, which has entailed growing hybridisation. Innovation originated in more “transformative” diplomatic practices capitalising on the contested states’ own political inbetweenness, which established relations that contributed to constituting and endogenously empowering them in the Brussels milieu. The way was thus paved for more “reproductive” diplomatic practices that mimic traditional state diplomacy to gain prominence. The impact achieved on “high politics” demonstrates how bottom-up practice-led change may allow contested states to compensate for their meagre material capabilities and punch above their structural weight in international politics.
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