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  • Author or Editor: Elsa Hedling x
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Social media are increasingly important tools in diplomacy. Diplomats are expected to use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate with each other and with both the domestic and international publics. This form of communication involves displaying positive emotions to generate attention in a competitive information environment. Emotions are essential to managing perceptions, conveying signals and safeguarding state reputations in traditional diplomacy. Commercial demands of online performance, however, activate new dimensions and challenges in the management of emotions in diplomacy. As digital disinformation and populist campaigns have transgressed the boundaries of domestic public debate, diplomats must also display emotional restraint to contain and counter such influence. This article analyses how diplomats perceive the demands of digital diplomacy and how emotions are engaged in their efforts to perform competently both online and offline. The study draws on fieldwork and interviews with 13 European diplomats as well as document analysis of handbooks and training material used to transfer ‘emotional communication skills’ to diplomats. The study findings suggest that the demands of digital diplomacy are challenging traditional enactments of ‘the good diplomat’. In addition to the tensions between outreach and countering communication practices, the emotional labour in digital diplomacy extends beyond what we see on social media. Diplomats perceive the expectations of constant performance online to at times conflict with their professional role offline.

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This article interrogates the digital storytelling of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy. Drawing on scholarship on state feminism and digital diplomacy, it shows how digital platforms offer opportunities to reproduce narratives of state feminism through storytelling. We propose that digital diplomacy is used to advance feminist foreign policy through emotional sense-making that requires the telling of personal stories. The article provides a narrative analysis of the stories of women and girls that symbolise and embody feminist foreign policy, and the way in which they are communicated by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The article concludes by noting that the digital storytelling of feminist foreign policy allows the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to communicate to a wider digital audience. These stories, however, run the risk of obscuring the feminist ambitions of feminist foreign policy by insufficiently considering the gendered injustices that undergird the global gender order and by bringing together seemingly incompatible stories of feminist exceptionalism and success.

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