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The University of Alabama

UA History Professor’s Book Explores 17th Century Protestantism, Diplomacy

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Daniel Riches, assistant professor of history at The University of Alabama, has written a new book titled “Protestant Cosmopolitanism and Diplomatic Culture,” published by Brill Academic Publishing.

The book explores 17th century Brandenburg-Swedish relations and presents an image of early modern diplomacy driven by complex networks of individuals driven by their personal backgrounds, cultural interests, religious convictions and connections.

“The image of diplomacy that emerges is not one of bilateral contact between states, but rather one that zigs and zags across multiple intersecting networks and ever-shifting constellations of religion, politics and culture,” Riches said. “The Brandenburg-Swedish relationship was crafted not only by formally credentialed diplomats, but also by an array of officers, bureaucrats, clergymen, merchants and scholars who conversed in the symbolic language of a common diplomatic culture and a worldview of Protestant cooperation across lines of political and denominational difference.”

Research for the book took Riches, who earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 2007, to several different countries and required that he use eight foreign languages. Diplomatic history demands that scholars think and research beyond the traditional categories within which so much of history has been written, he said.

Riches hopes the book will appeal to more than just specialists in his field.

“I think that looking at (this) material encourages us to rethink some of the assumptions we have about how diplomacy and ‘modern’ states work, since so many scholars say that the modern state system itself was born out of the period covered by my book,” he said.

The history department is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.