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The Bureaucracy of Honor. The Habsburg Consular Service and the History of Emotions


I use the personnel files of three consuls in the Austro-Hungarian foreign service to consider the ways Habsburg bureaucracy recorded the emotional lives of civil servants. Consuls were expected to interact with Habsburg subjects and other civilians dispassionately and objectively. But conflicts that occurred in their ‘free time,’ outside the consulates, spilled over into their professional time. The resolution of those conflicts involved their colleagues in the consulates and administrators in Vienna. While showing emotion in interactions inside the consulate was frowned upon, responding to attacks on personal honor with the strongest of emotions was expected of an Austro-Hungarian “gentleman.” Consuls had to abide by both the standards of their profession and the standards for “men of honor” (Ehrenmänner) that had been codified with the officer corps in mind. The recognition that both roles were compatible shows the repackaging of certain kinds of “emotion” as professional requirements, rather than excesses.