Call for Papers: One-Day Conference on “Diplomatic Gifts and Counter-Gifts (16th century-early 20th c)” – September 27, 2022

Posted on March 9, 2022

Diplomatic Gifts and Counter-Gifts (16th-early 20th c) : Understandings and Misunderstandings between Britain and the Muslim East, 16th to Early 20th Century

A one-day conference in person at the Centre for Diplomatic Archives, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, la Courneuve, Paris

27 September 2022


As symbolic commodities circulating within and across cultures, gifts offer rich and multiple perspectives on the conduct of international diplomacy and its corollary cross-cultural transactions. Taking as our focus diplomatic relations between Britain and the three Muslim systems of the Ottomans, Persians, and Mughals over a period ranging from early contacts in the 16th century to the high age of the British empire, we wish to map out the shifts of paradigms and the redefinitions of circuits of allegiance and power through objects over the longue durée. Our comparative approach will cover the three Maussian stages of the giving, receiving, and reciprocating of gifts, as we aim at identifying cultural agreements and disagreements across different systems and contexts over diplomatic gifts and the bonds which they create or disrupt. Particular attention will be paid to the rhetoric and protocol of hierarchy and/or reciprocity in gifts, their metonymic value and its possible repurposing in a changing context, as well as the legal and political personalities of the actors in charge of the transactive process and their various relations to the polities involved.

 We invite proposals for panels and individual papers especially on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  •  specific case studies of cross-cultural encounters or mis-counters around gifts
  • matches and mismatches in protocols and ceremonies
  • power competitions between official and unofficial circuits or individuals in the giving or receiving of gifts
  • the reframing and redefining of gifts through their display or reuse over time

Submission guidelines

Proposals (300 words, in English or French) accompanied by a short biographical statement (100 words) are to be sent to <> by 30 April 2022. We plan on publishing a selection of the papers presented at the conference in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.

Organising committee

LARCA, Université Paris Cité

  • Marine Bellégo,
  • Daniel Foliard,
  • Ladan Niayesh,
  • Stéphanie Prévost

For more on our research group, see our blog.