Dimensions of City Diplomacy

Principal Investigator:
Mark Kristmanson

Past Contributing Researcher:
Seth Mason

The rising influence of globally interactive urbanism

Investigating public diplomacy’s relationship to “the city” was the focus of a lively research seminar at the Center on Public Diplomacy under the auspices of a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in 2011. Starting with the ways cities directly engage and influence each other across national boundaries, from peace building and security initiatives to ecological sustainability and forms of cultural exchange, these initial mappings have now led to a second phase of research focused on what we call ‘globally interactive urbanism,’ the city-to-city practices that are shaping global urbanization.

From debates over the replication of elite signature architecture in world cities to the global export of American post-suburban forms, we analyze a series of space-related issues not typically associated with public diplomacy studies. The shift from monocentric cities to polycentric urban agglomerations, sometimes numbering their citizens in the tens of millions, calls into consideration public diplomatic practices rooted in traditional capital-to-capital exchanges.

The ‘friction of distance’ that favors what is most proximate is complicated today not only by the rise of global communications and transportation but by fragmenting local geographies and the privatization of public space. This is one of the tensions within globally interactive urbanism that bears directly on the democratizing impetus underscoring much contemporary public diplomacy.

This project draws on the ‘cosmopolitan turn’ in social thought to reconsider city diplomacy in spatial terms, including urban planning, architecture and network theory. We invite contact from scholars and professionals with complementary interests as this research proceeds towards publication. Please contact Dr. Mark Kristmanson, mark.kristmanson@ncc-ccn.ca.