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PPR Research Seminar
Date: 6 December 2010 Time: 4.00-6.00 pm
Venue: Frankland Colloquium LB1
Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University
THE DEVIL, DIPLOMACY & PERCEPTION
In his wide ranging talk, Nicholas Coombs (a UK Diplomat with over 20 years of diplomatic experience in the Middle East) will explore the concept of the 'devil' in diplomatic discourse with the Middle East. Using a juridical logic humans often choose to depict as devils those who cause us suffering and who enjoy a power we recognise but cannot control/defy. For example, the UK is often labelled as the "Little Satan" in Tehran. What does this imply and where do we place the devil and its associated meanings in our engagement with the Islamic world and beyond?
More fundamentally, what does this imply for the fundamental meaning of diplomacy: what is it and what is it for? What does it mean in the Islamic world? If we (citizens of the UK) believe we are at "war" with some parts of the Islamic world then what is the role of diplomacy in those areas? Lastly, what is the role of diplomacy in the relationship between modernity and Islam and how does our perception of that relationship shape international relations and UK diplomacy?
Nicholas Coombs went to Cambridge in 1981 to study English (and music), but abandoned a potential PhD in "Innocence & Experience in the works of Blake, Marvell and Wallace Stevens" to join the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1984. After learning Arabic at SOAS in London and Cairo he has spent his diplomatic working life in, on or connected with the Middle East and Islam. He has served (twice) in Saudi Arabia and was Counsellor Political from 2000 - 2003 as the Twin Towers came down and the Saudi government's internal struggle with radicalism really kicked off, Amman, Copenhagen and has covered the remainder of the Middle east and North Africa extensively from London. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University.
Who can attend: Anyone
Organising departments and research centres: Politics, Philosophy and Religion PPR
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