Saturday, June 17, 2017

Video: What is Cultural Diplomacy (video); see also, which is also posted at.

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Published on Jun 17, 2017

[Text accompanying video:]

Source: article, adapted under license.

Cultural diplomacy a type of public diplomacy and soft power that includes the "exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples in order to foster mutual understanding." The purpose of cultural diplomacy is for the people of a foreign nation to develop an understanding of the nation's ideals and institutions in an effort to build broad support for economic and political goals. In essence "cultural diplomacy reveals the soul of a nation," which in turn creates influence. Though often overlooked, cultural diplomacy can and does play an important role in achieving national security aims.

Culture is a set of values and practices that create meaning for society. This includes both high culture (literature, art, and education, which appeals to elites) and popular culture (appeals to the masses). This is what governments seek to show foreign audiences when engaging in cultural diplomacy. It is a type of soft power, which is the "ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from a country's culture, political ideals and policies." This indicates that the value of culture is its ability to attract foreigners to a nation. Cultural diplomacy is also a component of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is enhanced by a larger society and culture, but simultaneously public diplomacy helps to "amplify and advertise that society and culture to the world at large.” It could be argued that the information component of public diplomacy can only be fully effective where there is already a relationship that gives credibility to the information being relayed. This comes from knowledge of the other’s culture.” Cultural diplomacy has been called the “linchpin of public diplomacy” because cultural activities have the possibility to demonstrate the best of a nation. In this way, cultural diplomacy and public diplomacy are intimately linked.

Richard T. Arndt, a former State Department cultural diplomacy practitioner, said "Cultural relations grow naturally and organically, without government intervention – the transactions of trade and tourism, student flows, communications, book circulation, migration, media access, inter-marriage – millions of daily cross-cultural encounters. If that is correct, cultural diplomacy can only be said to take place when formal diplomats, serving national governments, try to shape and channel this natural flow to advance national interests.” It is important to note that, while cultural diplomacy is, as indicated above, a government activity, the private sector has a very real role to play because the government does not create culture, therefore, it can only attempt to make a culture known and define the impact this organic growth will have on national policies. Cultural diplomacy attempts to manage the international environment by utilizing these sources and achievements and making them known abroad. An important aspect of this is listening- cultural diplomacy is meant to be a two-way exchange. This exchange is then intended to foster a mutual understanding and thereby win influence within the target nation. Cultural diplomacy derives its credibility not from being close to government institutions, but from its proximity to cultural authorities. It is seen as a silent weapon in gaining control over another nation with the use of non-violent methods to perpetrate a relationship of mutual understanding and support among the countries involved.

Ultimately, the goal of cultural diplomacy is to influence a foreign audience and use that influence, which is built up over the long term, as a sort of good will reserve to win support for policies. It seeks to harness the elements of culture to induce foreigners to:

- have a positive view of the country's people, culture and policies,
- induce greater cooperation between the two nations,
- aid in changing the policies or political environment of the target nation,
- prevent, manage and mitigate conflict with the target nation.

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