Approaching MFAs through Ethnographic Work

In Christian Lequesne (ed), Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the World: Actors of State. Brill Academic Publishers, 2022, pp. 335-351.

This chapter looks at one method to study ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs), namely ethnography. Ethnography can be combined with other methods. It consists in watching and observing what diplomats do, and wondering about why they do it, the way they do it and what effects stem from whether they do it this way or not. The chapter discusses how a researcher may get to study MFAs (field access), what they have to know about the field and themselves in order to do this in an optimal way (situatedness) and how they transform observations into notes and notes into text (techniques). In conclusion, the chapter offers some reflections on the ethics of being an ethnographer of MFAs.