Nevra Biltekin


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Works at Department of History
Visiting address Huvudbiblioteket plan 6, Universitetsvägen 10
Postal address Historia 106 91 Stockholm


I am a gender historian doing research within transnational history and new diplomatic history. My 2016 doctoral dissertation studied the development of the diplomatic profession in Sweden. I have also published articles about the semi-official roles of wives of diplomats, as well as the memoir genre as a source of historical inquiry. My ongoing postdoc project focuses on the ways in which Swedish immigrant women in the United States engaged in cultural activities in their new homeland and, by doing so, contributed to the development of cultural relations between Sweden and the United States. Immigrant women usually did not have a mandate to act officially on behalf of their home country, and their activities within the cultural field did not lead to formal agreements or treaties. Therefore, we know very little about how immigrant female groups in practice contributed to diplomatic relations. One central purpose of the project is to expand our notion of what constitutes diplomatic agency.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Nevra Biltekin. Tillit och diplomati
  • Thesis (Doc) Servants of Diplomacy
    2016. Nevra Biltekin (et al.).

    From the dissolution of Sweden’s Union with Norway in 1905 until the country’s membership in the European Union in 1995, diplomats in Sweden underwent a number of reforms that aimed to create a professionally recruited and capable cadre of civil servants, serving Swedish diplomacy. The purpose of the dissertation is to analyze the shaping of Swedish diplomats in the twentieth century.

    Empirically the analysis focuses on how the Swedish state envisioned diplomats to be, how applicants in practice were recruited and trained by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and how the diplomats themselves presented their positions. By studying government commission reports, statutes issued on the admission of diplomats, material relating to their recruitment and training archived by the MFA, and diplomatic memoirs, this study analyzes the ways in which this group was in constant conversation with the changing world around them. Theoretically, the dissertation takes its point of departure in Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the state, adopting the concepts of capital, consecration, the bureaucratic field, habitus and doxa in an analytical approach.

    The study contributes to four research gaps. First, it sheds new light on how a career in diplomacy was reshaped considering domestic and international developments in the twentieth century. Second, it demonstrates how visions expressed and routines adopted benefitted men from the upper ranks of society, and it also shows how these structural conditions changed over time. Third, the study explores how the competences and skills of diplomats mainly relied on generalist skills that related to both diplomacy and bureaucracy. Fourth, the dissertation demonstrates how publishing memoirs became an increasingly valuable means for the diplomats to present themselves, individually and collectively, and to display their lives and careers to a wider readership.

  • 2015. Nevra Biltekin. Women, diplomacy and international politics since 1500, 254-268
  • 2012. Michael Auwers, Nevra Biltekin. Ecrivains et diplomates
  • 2012. Michael Auwers, Nevra Biltekin. Transnational Subjects: History, Society and Culture 2 (1), 95-103

    Historians have seldom asked why diplomats write their memoirs, and have only rarely inquired into the relationship between the diplomatic profession and the literary genre of memoirs. This essay attempts to clarify these questions by focusing on the Belgian and Swedish diplomatic communities as test cases. We argue that the democratization of diplomacy in the twentieth century incited diplomats to take up their pens in defense of their profession. In order to harmonize their images of self with a changing world and an ever more critical public opinion, they tended to stress the heroic dimension of their professional identities.

  • 2012. Nevra Biltekin. Genesis XI (1-2), 253-265
Show all publications by Nevra Biltekin at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 29, 2019

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