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ARI Working Paper Series

WPS 164 'Diplomacy as Theatre': Recasting The Bandung Conference of 1955 as Cultural History
Publication Title: Working Paper Series
Publisher: Asia Research Institute; National University of Singapore, Singapore
Series: WPS 164
Publication Date: Oct/2011
Author/Speaker: Naoko Shimazu
Keywords: diplomacy, Bandung Conference, Cold War, decolonization, performance, symbolic
Abstract / Description:

As a significant ‘moment’ in twentieth-century international diplomacy, the Bandung Conference of 1955 is replete with symbolic meanings. How can we delve deeper into understanding the symbolic? To this end, ‘diplomacy as theatre’ as a conceptual framework enables us to re-interpret the Bandung Conference acts of symbolic performance, where ‘actors’ perform on the ‘stage’ to ‘audiences’. I focus primarily on the city of Bandung in Indonesia where spatially and temporally a ‘stage’ was created to enable ‘performances’ to take place not only by ‘actors’ but also between ‘actors’ and ‘audiences’. Sukarno, Nehru, Zhou Enlai and Nasser all understood the importance of the performative in their role as international statesmen, representing the collective ‘spirit’ of the post-colonial world. I argue that the success of the Bandung Conference as a theatre of diplomatic performance is central to its symbolic legacy.

Full text is not available, this working paper is withdrawn, as it has now been published online on 22 July 2013 as “Diplomacy as Theatre: Staging the Bandung Conference of 1955”, Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-28.

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