• Guest Posts,  Public Diplomacy

    To Know Us is to Hate Us?

    By Emina Vukic After having spent two years studying in the United States in 1950, Sayyid Qutb, leading Islamic theologian of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who shaped the ideas of Islamists and terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, wrote an article entitled "The America That I Have Seen". In it he criticized the individual freedoms he had seen exercised, he was appalled at having seen unmarried men and women dancing together, losing themselves in lust, while the band played a revolting song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” He returned to Egypt convinced that the America is evil that had to be stopped. This came to be known as “Sayyid Qutb Syndrome” that…

  • Events,  Public Diplomacy

    2010 Cultural Diplomacy Conference: Cultural Diplomacy as a Listening Project?

    On Monday, 8 November 2010, the International Communication Program of American University’s School of International Service, with sponsorship from the MountainRunner Institute and the Public Diplomacy Council, will host a 1-day conference to consider the extent to which, and how, cultural diplomacy might be a “listening project.” From 12:00pm to 4:30pm on the AU campus, this conference is an opportunity for productive exchange among key stakeholders in the future of cultural diplomacy, all of whom should be in more regular conversation: the policy community, practitioners in public diplomacy, and academic researchers on the topic.

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Events

    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,…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Defense Department,  Events

    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…

  • Cultural Diplomacy

    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…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Psychological Struggle

    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…

  • 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…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Public Diplomacy

    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…

  • Cultural Diplomacy,  Other,  Psychological Struggle

    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…