01 Oct 2015

ENP Chair Guest Lecture by Prof. Merje KUUS: "How Do Diplomats Know What They Know? Expertise and Authority in Europe’s External Relations"

Auditorium Curie Skłodowska

Natolin (Warsaw) Campus
ul. Nowoursynowska 84
PL-02/797 Warszawa

Natolin (Warsaw) Campus

On Thursday, 1 October 2015, the European Neighbourhood Policy Chair at the Natolin (Warsaw) campus of the College of Europe hosted Professor Merje KUUS for a special ENP Chair Guest Lecture titled: "How Do Diplomats Know What They Know? Expertise and Authority in Europe’s External Relations".


To grasp how the European Union exercises power around the world, we must first understand how EU diplomats produce knowledge about the world. We must examine what counts as expert knowledge in Europe’s diplomacies: whose expertise succeeds and whose fails there; why and how this happens, and with what consequences. These questions are particularly fascinating in the context of EU diplomacy—both the Union’s external relations and the intra-EU diplomacy among the member states. This is so because EU diplomacy is a uniquely trans-national professional field to which there are no close equivalents elsewhere. In Brussels, individuals must combine a solid grasp of the Union’s infamously complex regulations with a sharp sense of the city’s peculiar social milieu and the agendas of the twenty-eight member states.

"Drawing on nine years of research on EU diplomacy in general and the European Neighbourhood Policy in particular, this presentation examines the production of expert knowledge in that professional field. Synthesizing insights from over 150 qualitative one-to-one interviews conducted with nearly 100 foreign affairs professionals since 2007, I offer a relatively 'peopled' or experience-near view of EU external relations. The in-depth empirical material, which centers on Brussels but brings in several more capital cities, enables me to underscore and unpack the individualized and creative character of EU decision-making." - Professor Merje KUUS


Merje KUUS is Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is a political geographer who studies diplomacy and transnational decision-making in Europe. Professor KUUS is the author of Geopolitics and Expertise: Knowledge and Authority in European Diplomacy (Wiley Blackwell, 2014) and Geopolitics Reframed: Security and Identity in Europe’s Eastern Enlargement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); she is also a co-editor of the Ashgate Research Companion to Critical Geopolitics (Ashgate, 2013). Professor KUUS has been the recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship and the Killam Fellowship as well as individual research grants from the United States Institute of Peace and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, among other bodies. Her current work, funded by a five-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, investigates diplomatic training in Europe.

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