This research investigates Belgium's diplomatic representation in Istanbul during the second half of the nineteenth century. Its primary concern lies with diplomatic 'practices', rather than (only) with the institutional, political and economic dimensions of Belgian diplomacy. The so-called 'soft' elements of diplomacy – (court)protocol, etiquette, diplomatic culture – will be studied in correlation with processes of identity formation. One of the analytical tools for this research is the concept of 'cultural encounter'. As for the sources, a wide variety of materials will be utilized, ranging from diplomatic dispatches, over private correspondence and memoirs, to travel journals and newspapers. By analyzing actual diplomatic encounters in their historical specific setting, this project aims (1) to enrich our knowledge of the history of Belgian-Ottoman relations from a new perspective, (2) to offer some insights into the 'culture of diplomacy' in late Ottoman Istanbul, and (3) to contribute to the revision and de-dramatization of some of the findings in grand meta-narratives (like 'Orientalism' and the 'Clash of Civilizations'), that distort and essentialize East-West relations. .