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The Transatlantic Era 1989-2020: A Textbook Project

Wednesday 9 December 2020
Diplomacy and Global Affairs Research Seminar Series 2020
Online MS Teams (Code: mfn7eno)



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Transatlantic relations have generated a vast amount of literature over the past century, as US-European relations came to dominate the global political, economic, and cultural landscape. Yet most studies have rarely been able to satisfactorily conceptualise the post-Cold War period. This period is often either interpreted as a continuation of Cold War era dynamics in different form, or as the era of unipolar US dominance.

In contrast to these established narratives, this textbook project does two things. Firstly, it provides a distinct new look at the recent history and politics of transatlantic relations, offering an interpretive model that frames it as something more than simply a period of transition as ‘the post-Cold War era’. Secondly, it does so by providing a set of key documents that are used to sustain a narrative on how transatlantic relations have evolved over the past three decades.

The textbook proposes that there has been a distinct ‘transatlantic era’ from 1989-2020. The argument is that in these thirty years the main states in the transatlantic region went through three key periods, each one defining a particular stance and charting a gradual undermining of the strengths on which transatlantic unity once relied.

Part I: 1989-1999 Victory?

Part II: 2000-2010 Divergence?

Part III: 2011-2020 Disarray?

The general trend is one from optimism and opportunity to pessimism and crisis. The textbook takes the unique perspective that these three decades following the end of the Cold War represent both the high point of the transatlantic region’s power and potential within systems of global governance, and its ultimate decline due to political and economic forces both from within and without.

About the speaker

Giles Scott-Smith holds the Roosevelt Chair in New Diplomatic History at Leiden University, and is the Academic Director of the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies in Middelburg, The Netherlands. In 2017, as an organiser of the New Diplomatic History network (https://www.newdiplomatichistory.com), he became one of the founding editors of Diplomatica: A Journal of Diplomacy and Society (Brill) together with Ken Weisbrode (Bilkent University).

He is co-editor for the Key Studies in Diplomacy book series with Manchester University Press and on the editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary History and New Global Studies. In 2019, together with Simon Schunz and Luk van Langenhove, he published the special issue ‘Broadening Soft Power in EU-US Relations’ in the European Foreign Affairs Review.

About the seminars

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.

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