Peter Kitlas

Area and Cultural StudiesPrinceton University

Award Information

2017 IDRF Program

Area and Cultural StudiesPrinceton University

A Diplomat’s Social Life: The Role of Moroccan and Ottoman Ambassadors in creating Diplomatic Norms in the Eighteenth Century Mediterranean

My project examines eighteenth century Moroccan and Ottoman diplomacy through a micro-historical lens. To do so, I investigate the social spaces of diplomatic interaction and the ambassadors who helped produce the norms, practices, and shared language of those social spaces. Through this lens, my project has two goals. The first is to better understand the development of Moroccan and Ottoman diplomatic bureaucracies in their respective domestic courts. This investigation builds on studies that attempt to define alternative narratives of modernity based on the introduction of a growing and diverse bureaucratic elite. A systematic analysis of the growing diplomatic bureaucracy in the Moroccan and Ottoman contexts thus adds a distinct case study of these modernizing state processes outside of the strict European perspective. The second part of my project examines the social spaces within which Moroccan and Ottoman ambassadors interacted on the foreign stage. By scrutinizing the role that Moroccan and Ottoman ambassadors played in developing the social norms, customs, and practices during their respective foreign missions it is possible to view the development of diplomatic practices from an angle that is close to the European model, but necessarily outside of its domain. Here, the social landscape of diplomacy helps to demonstrate the ways in which Moroccan and Ottoman ambassadors navigated these bureaucratic spaces both at home and abroad in order to develop and respond to administrative and political developments. Informed by literary, anthropological and sociological approaches, my micro-historical study seeks to shed light on alternative narratives of modernity related to the development of state bureaucratic practices and foreign diplomatic norms.