Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper investigates the growing practice of city-to-city diplomacy by examining paradiplomatic engagements for what they reveal about the broader differences between city-to-city and nation-to-nation diplomacy in terms of the questions addressed, the projects pursued, the stakeholders involved, and the assessment of outcomes. At this juncture in history, we are witnessing the growing inward-leaning nationalism of many leaders of nation-states that increasingly negates the importance and utility in state-to-state engagements: The U.S. promotes wall-building and withdraws from climate-change networks; Britain Brexits. These rejections of global accord contrast with the growing cosmopolitanism of major cities that strive to fill the mounting voids of interstate governance. This paper seeks to illuminate the new problems and possibilities that emerge from diplomatic relationships between city actors. City diplomacy has been handed the tools of the Westphalian system which makes certain assumptions about what diplomacy means, about the nature of the actors involved, and about the constitution of success; this project considers the utility and limitations of this framework to question whether the tools and assumptions of nation-state diplomacy capture the most important narratives of city transformation. Thus, beyond examining these projects empirically to consider the diversity of city-to-city diplomacy, this project seeks to understand the assumptions about paradiplomacy prior to engagement by asking both what counts for an urban problem that needs to be solved and what is imagined as best practices to solve these problems, in short to reveal the assumptions, values, and cultural beliefs that inform the process before it begins.