CFP ESHS Bologna 2020

Call for Papers: Diplomacy and Images in Science

(Sponsored by the DHST Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy)

Symposium proposal in preparation for the ESHS 2020 bi-annual meeting in Bologna (

Deadline extended to 10 December 2019.

In recent years there has been a significant move towards a better understanding of the visual aspects of public diplomacy in an effort to demonstrate that international negotiations are more than just a “logo-centric practice”(Constantinou, 2018). Given the growing emphasis on the interaction between science, technology and international affairs, there is scope for extending this inquiry on “visual diplomacy” to scientific images and/or images of scientists and diplomats. The critical relevance of scientific images in diplomatic practice has been recently captured by US President Trump’s controversial statements, supported by a crudely assembled weather map, that Alabama lay in the path of Hurricane Dorian, a faux-pax that echoed around the globe. This is just one example of how visualized scientific data can convey messages and meanings in international affairs, especially in connection with global challenges such as climate change (Wormbs, 2013). 

This symposium aims to deepen our understanding of how scientific images and images of scientists, diplomats, and scientific practices shape diplomatic activities in public diplomacy domains and bilateral/multilateral negotiations. In particular, we invite potential contributors to consider images of science meetings with a diplomacy angle; on big science/technology artefacts shaping diplomatic relations (e.g. CERN particle collider; Channel Tunnel), scientific images playing a substantive role in international diplomacy (e.g. climatology, forensic seismology); satirical cartoons/comics referring to international events with a science/technology element. We would like such an exploration to encompass different historical periods in the modern and contemporary eras, looking for instance at the role of cartographic images and botanic illustration in the shaping of colonial and imperial diplomatic practices. The symposium will be divided into sessions covering specific topics with papers of ca. 25 minutes. We ask presenters to start with one image or set of images that will represent the focus of the talk. 

Please send proposals of max 300 words (plus a 150-word CV) to Simone Turchetti ( and Matthew Adamson (


Literature cited:

Costas M. Constantinou, “Visual Diplomacy: Reflections on Diplomatic Spectacle and Cinematic Thinking,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 13/4 (2018): 388-409

Nina Wormbs, “Eyes on the Ice: Satellite Remote Sensing and the Narratives of Visualized Data,” in M. Christiansen, A. E. Nilsson, and N. Wormbs, eds., Media and the Politics of Arctic Climate Change: When the Ice Breaks, New York: Palgrave, 2013.

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