If the first step in developing an ethnography of everyday diplomacy requires re-scaling analytical focus on the forms of mediated exchange beyond the realm of the nation-state, this needs to be followed by an exploration of the ‘sites’ where everyday diplomacy actually takes place. One such ‘site’, which epitomizes the quintessence of diplomatic practice, is dining and commensality. By re-scaling this axiom beyond state-level diplomacy, I explore how the notion of sofra [table/dining etiquette] is deployed by a Muslim Dervish brotherhood in a post-cosmopolitan town in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. I suggest that the notion of sofra embodies both a mode of being diplomatic as well as a site of everyday diplomacy. The sofra thus enables the brotherhood to stage ‘events of hospitality’ to forge and mediate relationships between various ‘others’, locally and transnationally.
David Henig is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Kent. He is the co-editor of Being Muslim in the Balkans: Ethnographies of Identity, Politics and Vernacular Islam in Southeast Europe with Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska (Special Issue of Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 2013) and of Economies of Favour after Socialism (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) with Nicolette Makovicky.
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