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  • Diplomatic Representations of Mass Violence

    Joachim J. Savelsberg

    Chapter from the book: Savelsberg, J. 2015. Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur.


    This chapter examines the representation of mass violence in the diplomatic field. Based on interviews, a diplomatic master narrative—or ideal type of diplomatic representation of mass violence—is presented. Even more strongly than in the humanitarian-aid field, this narrative focuses on the long-term and structural causes of conflicts and avoids naming responsible actors, using the crime frame and applying the genocide label. The role of the Sudanese state in the diplomatic field is decisive, as diplomats depend on active participation by its high-ranking politicians. Also, different from judicial actors, diplomats are less oriented toward procedure outcomes than they are toward substantive outcomes. They have internalized their field’s institutional logic and its doxa, matter-of-course assumptions about the world. The analysis relativizes arguments by Samantha Power for the United States and Karen Smith for Europe, according to which cautious language of diplomats, even in the face of genocide, is reflective of the reluctance of rational actors to get involved, attributing such caution instead to the habitus of diplomats and its rootedness in the structural conditions of their field.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Savelsberg, J. 2015. Diplomatic Representations of Mass Violence. In: Savelsberg, J, Representing Mass Violence. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.4.g

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Aug. 27, 2015