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Cultures of Intelligence

9-11 June 2016

Venue: German Historical Institute London

Co-organized by: University of Potsdam, University of Leeds, University of Mannheim and the German Historical Institute London.

The workshop will investigate the current state of our understanding of national, international, transnational and comparative cultures of intelligence. Culture may be taken to include the role of intelligence services in society and/or the state, the representation of intelligence in the public sphere, or the interests, assumptions and operating procedures of intelligence.

The conference will interrogate whether there are distinctive national intelligence cultures. To what extent did co-ordination between national secret service traditions, their various cultural representations in literature and the media, and practical intelligence work, give rise to specific national cultures of intelligence? It will ask whether the intelligence field, by its very functioning, creates the 'secret service disposition' without which it could not function. It will further interrogate the existence of specific national habitats, the durable set of cognitive and affective dispositions rooted in early socialization, the characteristic ways of moving, speaking, and interacting with others that create and sustain the immediate complicity within a culture. The comparison of national cultures will open up the possibility that there is, in fact, an intelligence 'game', constituting an objective transnational complicity which underlies all antagonisms.

Conference report (PDF file), published in: GHIL Bulletin 38 (2016), Vol 2

Conference programme (PDF file)