Registration Open for ‘Embassies in Crisis’ – British Academy, 9 June 2016

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Embassies in Crisis

British Academy, 9 June 2016

Embassies have long been integral to international diplomacy, their staff instrumental to inter-governmental dialogue, strategic partnerships, trading relationships and cultural exchange. But Embassies are also discrete political spaces. Notionally sovereign territory ‘immune’ from local jurisdiction, in moments of crisis Embassies have often been targets of protest and sites of confrontation. It is this aspect of Embassy experience that this conference explores.

The Embassies in Crisis conference will revisit flashpoints in the recent lives of Embassies overseas. Much of the focus will be on Britain’s Embassies, but several papers will also consider other instances of Embassies in crisis, whether British or otherwise. Serving and former British Ambassadors will be presenting as ‘witnesses’ alongside invited academics who have been invited to discuss dramatic instances of international confrontation or mass demonstration that placed particular nations, their capitals, and the Embassies they housed in the global spotlight.

Key themes include: 

* The Embassy as a political space whose juridical status promotes frank discussion;

* The Embassy as a symbolic space, a haven whose non-violability may be challenged in moments of crisis;

* The Embassy as a prism whose specialist personnel gain a unique vantage point onto local politics and society;

* The Embassy as an analytical filter, its staff identifying key developments amongst the background noise of day-to-day political life;

* The Embassy as the ‘FCO overseas’, both a foreign policy hub and a part of a global diplomatic network;

* The Embassy as a community both for its own staff but, more widely, for fellow nationals, for commercial and cultural partners, and for the forms of governance it promotes;

* The Embassy as redoubt, in moments of crisis especially, its operational presence confirming the strategic objectives of the nation it represents.

Attendance at the conference is free but pre-registration via the Eventbrite link below is required:

9.00-9.10 Welcoming Remarks: Martin Thomas



Panel I

·      Richard Smith, Keeping the Flag Flying: John Reeves and the British Consulate in Macau, 1941-45

·      Karine Varley, ‘Imprisoned in the Vatican’: Neutrality and the Challenges Facing the French Embassy to the Holy See, 1940-1944

·      Rogelia Pastor-Castro, The British Embassy in Paris and the Fall of France


10.30-11.00 Coffee


11.00-12.00 Panel II ·      Jane Marriott, Director FCO Middle East, former Ambassador to Yemen

·      Simon Smith, former Ambassador to Ukraine


12.00-12.45 Lunch


12.45-13.45 Panel III ·      Mary Heimann, The Mindszenty Affair and the U.S. Embassy in Budapest

·      David Schriffl, From Crisis to Crisis: Austrian diplomatic representations in Czechoslovakia from the early 1950s to the late 1960s


13.45-14.15 Coffee


14.15-15.15 Panel IV ·      Corin Robertson, Director FCO Estates and Security

·      Joanna Roper, Director FCO Crisis Management Department


15.15-15.40 Coffee


15.40-17.00 Panel V ·      Alex Ferguson, The U.S. Embassy in Saigon and the Crisis at Dien Bien Phu, 1954

·      Lorena De Vita, ‘Such a relationship should be a two-way street’: The First German Embassy in Israel between Crises and Opportunities, 1966-1967

·      Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, Hook, line and sinker: The British Embassy in Cairo and the supposed ‘expulsion of Soviet advisers’ from Egypt, 1972


17.00 Closing Remarks: Richard Toye