Tobias Wille. 2016. “Diplomatic cable”. In Making things international 2: Catalysts and reactions, Edited By Mark B. Salter and Mark B. Salter, Pp. 166-178. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
The term "cable," as used in the context of diplomacy, is ambiguous. It denotes both a message and its technological messenger. Telegraph wires were used around the middle of the nineteenth century to connect the capitals of Europe. The network soon expanded, and by 1870, with the laying of submarine cables, fast-traveling telegraphic messages could be sent between Britain, Continental Europe, North America, the Middle East, and India. Through these cables, diplomatic posts communicated with their ministries back home. But the term "cable" also came to denote the message that was sent by telegraph. In this chapter I use this ambiguity as an entry point for an exploration of what the new materialist turn can bring to Diplomatic Studies. I will demonstrate how at three particular points in history the cable, as both diplomatic message and technological messenger, made a difference to how things played out. To make sense of this, one needs to be perceptive of the myriad ways in which meaning and materiality intertwine in the making of what we call diplomacy. What is called for is, in other words, a material-semiotic analysis of diplomacy...Last updated on 03/30/2022