Organisation, Networks and Policy-making in European Foreign Ministries in the Twentieth Century

Workshop 16-17 October 2015, University of Cambridge, Department of Politics and International Studies, Alison Richard Building, West Road, Cambridge

This workshop is part of a major four-year AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK) funded research project entitled ‘Networks and Actors in the British and French Foreign Ministries : Responses to the Idea of European Integration, 1919-1957’, conducted by Prof John Keiger (Cambridge University) and Prof. Gaynor Johnson (Kent University).

The thesis which this project seeks to test is that in both the British and French foreign ministries from the end of the First World War – when ideas of European integration gained ascendancy as a means to international security and prosperity – to the establishment of the European communities in 1957, permanent officials were at least as important as their political masters in promoting or blocking the path towards some form of European integration. Two principal research questions emerge from the project:

  1. How were the foreign ministries of Britain and France organised between 1919 and 1957 in their dealing with questions relating to European integration ? In particular which foreign ministry departments (eg in the case of the British Foreign Office, the Central European Department, the Western European Department and the League of Nations Department) were the most powerful and influential in driving the policies of these two states in relation to Europe : how did the power distribution fluctuate between the departments over time and how did this affect policy ?
  2. Who were the permanent officials formulating policy on key issues affecting Europe ? In particular, what were the social and educational backgrounds of these actors ? How did this cultural context and training influence their world view and lead to formal or informal networks of like-minded individuals championing particular positions within their respective foreign ministries ? And how did all these factors influence the thinking of permanent officials when they considered the issue of a more integrated Europe ?

The workshop is intended to broaden this approach to other European foreign ministries across the whole of twentieth century Europe, broadly conceived, either through comparative perspectives or single state studies.

Papers of 20 minutes duration might consider, for instance :

  • organisation of foreign ministries or their reform

  • education and background of permanent officials and diplomats

  • networks and sociability in the diplomatic world

  • schools or academies of diplomatic preparation, training and competitive exams

  • impact of the European ideal on permanent officials

  • influence of other government departments or agencies (finance, commerce, defence, central banks etc) on policies for European integration

  • the policy-making process in foreign ministries

  • bureaucratic politics and policy blocking tactics in foreign ministries.

The working languages of the workshop will be French and English. Please send abstracts (one page A4) of your paper in either English or French, with a brief cv, to jk586@cam.ac.uk by 15 August 2015. An editorial panel will select the papers.


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