Cultural diplomacy is a form of diplomacy in which relations and communication with a foreign public occur through direct and indirect liaises and actions utilizing media, art, cultural assets, and other people-to-people means. Cultural diplomacy is generally defined as a tool for facilitating international cooperation and promoting mutual understanding.
The ongoing debate over the term
No consensus has been reached on a definition of cultural diplomacy despite extensive discussion. Cultural diplomacy is typically described as being part of public diplomacy or as a soft power tool. Other definitions focus on the communication between a government and a foreign public or the role of non-state actors in the formation of cultural diplomacy. It has been argued that cultural means can be used to reflect a sender's culture (norms, values, etc.), while others maintain that it is no different from other nation-branding methods. It relates to the unresolved debate over the definition of "culture" applied to "cultural diplomacy." On the one hand, it is argued that culture must be understood non-stricto-sensu - as a symbolic meaning system including values, ideas, norms, language, etc.; all factors shaping the human behavior or\and a group identification.
On the other hand, stricto-sensu views cultural diplomacy through the lens of (mainly) state interests. In this regard, there is also a debate over whether culture diplomacy can foster active exchanges of ideas, practices, and values rather than one-way communications.
The massive use of cultural means during the cold war, also known as the "war of ideas," rendered "cultural diplomacy" almost synonymous with propaganda.
Cultural diplomacy has resurfaced with the end of the cold war and more significantly over the last two decades. In light of the decline of traditional diplomacy, the digital age has paved the way for new cultural tools, such as new media channels and social networks. In this respect, cultural diplomacy emerged as a crucial component of states' ability to gain access to and influence foreign publics.
Meanwhile, scholars began focusing on the growing role of non-state actors in the international arena. Rather than focusing on the US and Russia, the focus has shifted to international organizations, such as the EU. Although the research in the field is still limited and often linked to public diplomacy, branding, or even manipulation, it opened the way to new perspectives and analyses in the field.
Diplomatic activities that promote the exchange of ideas between global audiences.
Dialogue must be the goal; otherwise, it is no more than public diplomacy, branding, and other nation branding tools.
Direct engagement with foreign audiences without state mediation.
The target audience is as broad as possible, not just elite groups.
Artistic means are used to reflect the sender's culture (values, norms, etc.).
Multi-actor arena, not just state actors.
How do we recognize "Cultural Diplomacy"?
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