Scholars of contemporary international relations have long noted the rise of such nonstate agents as global corporations and NGOs on the world stage. With that shift in mind, John Robert Kelley has questioned the continued viability of an institutional definition of diplomacy that dates back to the eighteenth century. If corporate directors and NGO officers have as much impact in shaping international systems as traditionally commissioned diplomats, it might make more sense to redefine diplomacy as a behavior that can be carried out by nonstate, noncommissioned agents. As the essays gathered in this special issue suggest, that behavioralist redefinition of diplomacy might apply just as well to the premodern state system, before the rise of the familiar foreign office, as to the postmodern state system, whose multilayered complexities extend, resist, and often successfully counter the policy goals of traditional diplomats. Diplomats mattered in premodern state relations. But so did merchants and missionaries, writers, actors, and other artists.

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