Miami's municipal diplomacy: Applying an evaluation model to the foreign affairs activities of a transnational city

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Thomas D. Boswell - Committee Chair


How can the foreign affairs activities of a city be measured? Miami---the so-called "Capital of the Americas"---is an ideal laboratory for developing and applying a model whereby we can begin to answer this question. From the early 1960's on, no other major city in the U.S. has experienced such a rapid and profound shift in its social, economic, and political characteristics as a result of immigration, yet there has been no comprehensive, standardized study of what we may term Miami's "foreign relations." Adapting and expanding the "complex conglomerate system" model developed in the mid-1970's, this dissertation combines event data analysis of a large data sample gathered from The Miami Herald from the period 1946--1997 with several dozen "key personnel" interviews to give a rich and nuanced view of the city's foreign affairs activities in four areas: the political elite, political grassroots, economic, and social spheres. A series of mini-case studies brings the project current to 2004.Classical foreign policy is made at the national level, but Miami-Dade County, with its $72 billion economy in 2004, is larger than 26 of the Western Hemisphere's 35 countries. Substate entities---including regions, states, and cities---are crossing thresholds that only nations had once been able to cross, and mankind is experiencing a blurring of the line separating domestic from international affairs. Traditional theories of international interaction cannot adequately describe nor account for the complexity and intertwining of human association, and we need new analytical tools as we find ourselves in an emerging "archipelago of cities"---perhaps even a new era of augmented city-states---spanning the globe, cities which are increasingly relevant in and of themselves to international interactions.Theoretically, this study attempts to blend international relations, comparative politics, urban studies, and sociology in a new way. Comparatively, it adds to a small but growing body of literature dealing with patterns of political, economic, and social activity by subnational actors in the foreign relations arena. Operationally, the study develops a much needed framework---and serves as a catalyst---for future research that can contribute to the formation of municipal, state, and federal policy.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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