John Kuehn briefly opines on how the South lost the “conventional military context from 1861-1865” but turned that defeat into a cultural victory.Continue reading “Why the South Won (by John Kuehn) “
Category: Cultural Diplomacy
China and American Public Diplomacy: Another US Deficit
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) will publish another major report on public diplomacy shortly. Written by Paul Foldi, senior professional staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this report focuses on Chinese public diplomacy with the inevitable comparison to U.S. efforts. I was given a sneak peak at the report. It comes at a time when tough talk in Congress on the State Department’s budget could benefit from such an analysis of a country that is both a major competitor and partner across all aspects of national power and daily life.
This report is another in-depth investigation and commentary on a critical aspect of U.S. global engagement. It focuses on the China-United States exchange. This is the third report sponsored by Senator Lugar to reinvigorate public diplomacy. While the other two were on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (6/2010) and the American Centers (2/2009), this report focused primarily on China. The effect serves to expose not only the broad, extended, and expensive effort of the Chinese to engage foreign audiences, it also highlights opportunities and failed opportunities for the U.S.
Continue reading “China and American Public Diplomacy: Another US Deficit
Jazz Diplomacy: a Cold War Relic?
By Candace Burnham
Pop quiz: name three jazz artists under the age of 50. Maybe you named popular favorites Wynton and Branford Marsalis, but can you name any of their albums? Does anyone else spring to mind? No? You’re not alone – if anemic record sales are any indication, a majority of Americans would draw a blank at that question. As a trumpet player who graduated from a jazz school, I’m acutely aware of the fact that jazz is simply not as ubiquitous today as it was sixty years ago. Yet, it’s still the crown jewel in US public diplomacy efforts. We export it as representative of American culture, but it’s barely relevant in our own country.
Cultural diplomacy, according to the late public arts funding advocate Dr. Milton Cummings Jr, is, “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding.“ Governments utilize it in hopes of earning the support of foreign publics. Jazz, the status quo version embraced in government programs like Rhythm Road, doesn’t represent today’s America, but with the respect and press it garnered in the 1950s and 60s, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is hesitant to give it up.
Cynthia Schneider on Holbrooke and Rembrandt
For another perspective on the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, read Ambassador Cynthia Schneider’s description of her first meeting with him in 2000. The context Holbrooke’s arrival in the Netherlands for the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Holbrooke was the U.S. envoy to the UN and Cynthia was U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands. The result is a demonstration of a Renaissance Man.
Having heard about Holbrooke’s formidable reputation, I had prepared myself to answer any and every question about the Tribunal, but was completely taken aback when the man who had tamed Milosevic asked me about Rembrandt.
Read the whole, brief article here.
Event: Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum
From the Aspen Institute, The Phillips Collection, and the NYU John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress present the Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum.
Date: October 4, 2010
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC
How should the United States use culture both to communicate and listen to other nations? The 2010 Aspen Cultural Diplomacy Forum will feature the political and cultural leaders who are now shaping the policies and practices of cultural diplomacy in the public and private sectors.
Keynote Speaker: Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. Secretary of State (1997 – 2001)
Other speakers include:
The Honorable John Brademas, President Emeritus, New York University
Elizabeth Diller, Architect
Eric Fischl, Painter
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (invited)
Chairman Jim Leach, National Endowment for the Humanities
Congressman Jim Moran, U.S. House of Representatives
Dr. Azar Nafisi, Author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
His Excellency Arturo Sarukhan, Mexican Ambassador to the United States
His Excellency Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Ambassador to the United States
In Conversations Moderated by: Michael Dirda, Joseph Duffey, Dana Gioia, Frank Hodsoll, Philip Kennicott, Dorothy Kosinski, Eric Motley, and Cynthia Schneider.
Lunch will be served in the Phillips Collection courtyard.
To register for the event, please visit: https://secure.aspeninstitute.org/culturaldiplomacyforum
- The Role of Cultural Relations in Conflict Prevention and Resolution
- Conflict Prevention and Resoution – the Role for Cultural Relations, an interview with British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson
Cultural Diplomacy survey
American University invites you to participate in this brief survey on cultural diplomacy. The open-ended survey should not take more than a few minutes of your time. See the below explanation and :
Event: U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy
The U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD), in partnership with the U.S. State Department and with the support of more than 1000 U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) conducting citizen diplomacy activities, will convene a historic U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy on November 16-19, 2010 in Washington, DC. The goal of the Summit and ten year Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy is to double the number of American volunteers of all ages involved in international activities at home or abroad, from an estimated 60 million today to 120 million by 2020.
A detailed agenda is available online.
Continue reading “Event: U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy
Interested in the culture and history of Afghanistan from 1842 to the present day?
Too little is known in the US about the history of Afghanistan. History is something Americans tend to ignore, often to our detriment. We forget our history and ignore the history of others. Precedence is, in the American mind, reserved only for the law and not to the shaping perceptions or forming public opinion. This is a defect in our approach to global affairs. Such is the case with Afghanistan, where we failed to grasp (and ignored sage advice on) the impact of history on modern events.
Enter The Great Game: Afghanistan, an epic 3-part play (nine hours total) from the UK’s Tricycle Theatre, which explores the “culture and history of Afghanistan since Western involvement in 1842 to the present day.” This play begins its US tour in Washington, DC, next month. It then goes to Minneapolis, San Francisco, and New York. (Why no Los Angeles date? SF does not count.) Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, the US tour is sponsored by the British Council in an example of cultural diplomacy.
Continue reading “Interested in the culture and history of Afghanistan from 1842 to the present day?
Yemeni YES participant discovers “real” America does not correspond to media image
Written by Lisa Retterath of the Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange, where this post originally appeared.
In a recent Huffington Post article, 17-year old Maad Sharaf shares his thoughts about how a year abroad in the United States through the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program has changed his life. Originally from Aden in the Republic of Yemen, Sharaf came to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, where he quickly learned that the image he had gotten about the United States, based mainly on media coverage in Yemen, did not correspond to reality:
“I thought America was all about huge buildings, exciting places, drunken people everywhere and going to war with every country. That was what we saw every day on television and in American movies. Unfortunately, we never saw the nice things about it or the very respectful people.”
Sharaf also had to learn that many Americans had negative images of Yemen and the Muslim world in general that they, too, ascribed to the media. When realizing this, he felt he had to become active:
“It was then that I decided I was responsible for teaching the American people in my community who we (Muslims) are as real people, and showing them that we are not the bad people they see in the news. I felt like I was not only representing Yemen, but also the Middle East and all the Islamic countries in the world.”
As Sharaf explains, he never got over the culture shock entirely but nevertheless considers his travel to the U.S. to have changed his life for the better. He discovered “that the best way to reflect a good image of your country, your family and your religion to people who don’t have any idea about where you are coming from is to be who you really are, wherever you are.”
Conflict Resolution and Prevention: The Role for Culture Relations
Earlier this year, the British Council co-hosted an event in Brussels with Security Defence Agenda and NATO to discuss how “cultural” projects facilitate dialogue between groups, play a part in preventing conflict, healing post-conflict wounds, and potentially avoid conflicts based on misunderstand or mistrust. The video below are the highlights from this conference that I attended. It includes a post-event interview with British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson.
I strongly recommend it to those interested in creating and supporting culture-based engagement pathways that to some may be “alternative” but are ultimately fundamental. One cannot hope to successfully engage in a struggle of minds and wills if one does not understand or empower the actors or their solutions to their circumstances.
- The Role of Cultural Relations in Conflict Prevention and Resolution from 24 March 2010.
Smith-Mundt and the ‘Ground Zero’ mosque
Josh Rogin posts at The Cable that the Smith-Mundt Act came up in the Tuesday public affairs briefing at the State Department. Josh’s summary is a better read than the transcript:
Continue reading “Smith-Mundt and the ‘Ground Zero’ mosque
A rush to learn English by cell
From November 14, 2009, in The Washington Post by Maija Palmer and Amy-Kazmin: “A rush to learn English by cell: More than 300,000 Bangladeshis sign up for new phone service”
Jamming for Uncle Sam: Getting the Best From Cultural Diplomacy
By Nick Cull
This originally appeared on Huffington Post. It is gladly cross-posted here at Nick’s request.
Recent years have seen a welcome resurgence in U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, which after honorable service in the Cold War, sailed into the doldrums in the mid-1990s. Today, the State Department is reaching out to foreign publics in partnership with major private sector partners including Jazz at the Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as maintaining its own program of visits, exhibitions and tours. While the new initiatives began under the administration of George W. Bush as a ‘soft power’ response to the challenges of the Global War on Terror, they seem an ideal fit for the priorities of the Obama administration, with its emphasis on ‘engagement’ and rebooting the global perception of the United States. At such a moment it is perhaps well to take stock and consider the nature of cultural diplomacy and how best to harness its strengths to advance America’s international priorities.
Continue reading “Jamming for Uncle Sam: Getting the Best From Cultural Diplomacy
America in Alexandria, de Tocqueville in Arab
By Amb. Cynthia P. Schneider
"This is the most extraordinary place I have ever seen," exclaimed Sid Ganis, film producer and past President of the Academy of Motion Pictures, about the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the modern day reincarnation of the famous Library of Alexandria. Ganis was in Alexandria to participate in a conference organized by the Library commemorating the one year anniversary of President Obama’s Cairo speech. The brainchild of the Bibliotheca’s founding Director, Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Initiatives in Education, Science and Culture Towards Enhanced US-Muslim Countries Collaborations, aimed to focus on concrete projects and initiatives in those three areas, and not on divisive political issues such the Israeli-Palestine conflict and Iraq.
Continue reading “America in Alexandria, de Tocqueville in Arab
Refurbished approach to cultural diplomacy by Martin Rose of the British Council
In a July 2010 issue of Layalina Productions’ Perspectives, British Council officer Martin Rose argues for the West, particularly Europe, to be more “culturally literate” and refurbish its approach to cultural relations. Rose discusses the social and cultural marginalization of immigrant minorities in Europe, who recently have been lumped into the category of “Muslims” to the detriment of their national identities. He argues the need for Europe to be more open-minded and accepting of the “huge multiplicity of rivers that flow into our sea.” Urging non-Muslim Europeans to break the “Us vs. Them” mentality when approaching cultural differences, Rose advocates building trust, understanding and personal relationships to “live well in the 21st century and beyond.”
Rose also says:
- To focus myopically on our own story as we are used to hearing it told is childish, a yearning for the warm security of the nursery.
- Our inability to construct a larger Us is damaging and deforming: by its very nature it renders impossible a subtle, nuanced and relatively objective understanding of human culture and human society.
- The Role of Cultural Relations in Conflict Prevention and Resolution from 24 March 2010
- Conflict Prevention and Resolution – the Role for Cultural Relations by Robin Davies at the British Council blog
- Conflict Prevention and Resoution – the Role for Cultural Relations, an interview with British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson
USA Wins! and other news
USA just won its group in the World Cup! Despite more bad referring! USA advances to the next round to play a team to be determined later this morning. Matt Ygelsias unbelievably jokes this is a result of the “failure of Obama public diplomacy” soon before Twitter’s fail whale appears.
Right, and England advances from Group C as well.
In other news:
- General McChrystal and his staff ironically fail to grasp true and full nature of the information war they are in as they roll their stones into new careers (excluding the oft-repeated highlights, the Rolling Stone article isn’t bad).
- Psychological Operations gets a necessary name change to Military Information (or possibly Military Information Support… but not Military Information Support Operations as I tweeted on Monday). Perhaps now we can have the necessary shift in Public Affairs to take on some of the proactive and preactive tactics, techniques, and procedures of Military Information Support (MIS) / PSYOP that are required in today’s environment.
- And Ann Stock is confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs while the nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors are not.
Posting will remain sporadic as I am still in Hawaii. Next week I’ll be at the European IO Conference presenting on Now Media with attention on Wikileaks. The following week I’ll be in DC to conduct a seminar on Now Media with presentations from Duncan MacInnes, acting Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs (just announced: 2010 Democracy Video Challenge winners), Adam Pearson, and others.
Shanghai’d, or the USA Pavilion as a corporate theme park
Below is an excerpt from a must-read post at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy by Cynthia Schneider and Hailey Woldt on America’s “contribution” to the World Expo now underway in China.
Let’s begin with the positive: the United States is present at the World Expo in Shanghai. The Secretary of State deserves praise for making this possible, by launching an eleventh hour fundraising drive, after the previous administration had done virtually nothing (besides rejecting a proposal that included Frank Gehry as architect). The Chinese cared enough about the U.S. presence to have contributed both public and private funds to guarantee that the U.S. showed up for Expo Shanghai 2010.
In this age of globalization and social networking, a World Expo might seem a quaint throwback to a bygone era. But for many countries, including, notably, China, it offers a global platform to present strengths and salient characteristics to the world. For example, Japan, known for its technology, powers its “green” pavilion partly from the footsteps of visitors who are treated to violin-playing robots, a single-person prototype car by Toyota, as well as a historical exhibition on Japan’s envoys to China. In its pavilion, Indonesia highlights cultural diversity; the United Arab Emirates emphasizes sustainability, a key focus of the country, with a recyclable dune shaped pavilion. Almost without exception the pavilions dazzle with innovative architecture, and with unusual shapes, colors, and lighting, as in the case of the United Kingdom’s pavilion— a futuristic display of 60,000 transparent fiberglass rods with different seeds enclosed at the ends, designed by British artist Thomas Heatherwick.
Continue reading “Shanghai’d, or the USA Pavilion as a corporate theme park
A Tale from the Field about Religion, Culture, and Perception
By Gregory L. Garland
Matt’s blog has become a force to behold in the discussion about strategic communication, public diplomacy, and State/DOD relations. It has shined a light on what largely was a rarified, inside-the-beltway debate symptomatic of the old USIA’s domestic blank spot. What has been lacking are stories from the field outside the U.S. – examples of PD as it actually is conducted by PD professionals. Here’s one from my own experience that in many ways is typical.
I’ve run effective PD programs that didn’t cost Uncle Sam anything except my own time. I’ve run next to useless PD programs so flush that I couldn’t spend all the money Washington showered upon me. And I’ve run just about everything in between those extremes. As every experienced PAO knows, basic human grit, skill, and talent will go far in assembling a program, but a little bit of cash always helps. And it doesn’t have to be much, especially when compared to what other agencies spend.
Continue reading “A Tale from the Field about Religion, Culture, and Perception
Event: Engaging Iran: Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society
This forum will assess past and current efforts for improved dialogue and exchange and examine the possible roles for civil society. In this time of intensified diplomatic action, what are the opportunities and obstacles for strengthening a citizens’ dialogue and building exchanges and institutional linkages between Iran and America? What do Americans need to understand better about Iran, and vice-versa? What communication pathways and innovations in the digital era could better convey ideas and values and support long term relations? Can civil society here and abroad contribute to the protection of human rights in Iran without endangering Iranian citizens? Are there multi-lateral, as well as bilateral, avenues for contact that might prove more effective in the long run, or possibilities to explore long-term collaboration and institution building?
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
4:00 – 8:00 pm
Meridian International Center
1630 Crescent Place, NW
Washington, DC 20009
RSVP by April 5 to
Continue reading “Event: Engaging Iran: Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society
The Role of Cultural Relations in Conflict Prevention and Resolution
Culture is how people think, says Martin Davidson, CEO of the British Council. Thinking of culture in this way creates the necessary intellectual space to conceive of cultural relations and cultural diplomacy as something more than engagement that a payoff that is subtle and decades away. It is a way to create pathways that can be leveraged to prevent or resolve conflict in the short term.
On March 2, 2010, the British Council, with NATO and Security Defence Agenda, hosted a conference in Brussels at the Bibliothèque Solvay titled “Conflict Prevention and Resolution: the Role of Cultural Relations.” The purpose was to discuss the value of building dialogues between groups that can be non-linguistic – such as sport, art, or civic development – to create opportunities for engagement, understanding, with goal of, as the title said, preventing and resolving conflict.
Knowing how people think, how they relate to one another, and how they communicate is essential within and across cultures. Cultural activities may be expressed in terms of exchanges of teachers, students, sports, languages but there is more to it then exchanging art work. We take for granted the vocabulary and points of contact even as understanding culture is ingrained in our daily lives. In corporate America, for example, this can take the form of participating in office betting pools during college basketball finals to playing golf with the boss or clients.
Continue reading “The Role of Cultural Relations in Conflict Prevention and Resolution