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The Daily: Art Diplomacy Interrupted

The Daily: Art Diplomacy Interrupted

January 24, 2014 7:04 am by: Category: The Daily Comments Off on The Daily: Art Diplomacy Interrupted A+ / A-

Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.

An touring exhibition of art once briefly owned by the U.S. State Department for propaganda reasons cultural diplomacy called “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy” opens this weekend at its final stop.

The State Department had bought about 150 paintings and, in the 1940s, planned to send them on propaganda world tours. The shows were meant to “exemplify the freedom of expression enjoyed by diverse artists in a democratic country,” Dennis Harper, a curator of the current show, writes in a catalog essay. The artworks include landscapes and florals by major figures like Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield, Walt Kuhn, Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe. The State Department commissioned J. LeRoy Davidson as the show’s main curator, who included the above, as well as slightly riskier abstract compositions, battle scenes, tenement streetscapes and portraits of impoverished Americans by Ben Shahn and Herman Maril. [New York Times]

 

Moira Whelan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Digital Strategy at the U.S. Department of State, asks “is diplomacy really going digital?” at TedXStockholm.

[via Diplomacy & Beyond]

 

 

Interesting question: Can Sochi athletes be diplomats?

He can still dunk like a butterfly, but in the personally tragic case of former basketball pro Dennis Rodman in North Korea, the embrace of Kim Jong Un and his policies sting like a bee. Rodman is only the most recent example of sports diplomacy gone awry. And with the Sochi Olympics a few weeks away, it is inevitable that a new cadre of unpredictable athlete diplomats will make it to center stage. [CPD Blog]

 

International Policy Digest looks at the way Israel and Iran are using Twitter to communicate at both the public and each other (an interesting line that needs to be considered) at Davos.

It’s not on par with Nixon going to China, but in Davos, Switzerland, the site of the World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of politicos and economic and social leaders, Iran and Israel have taken the first “baby steps” in creating a thaw in their relations.  While the moment in “Twitter diplomacy” is unlikely going to translate into direct trade or even a handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but considering how relations have been between Iran and Israel for the past several decades, it would be safe to characterize an exchange, even via Twitter, as historic.  Up until the election of Hassan Rouhani, the only exchanges between Israel and Iran were to hurl insults at one another and accuse each other of undermining the security of the other. [International Policy Digest]

 

Ireland swinging its doors open to immigration in the last few years has not only created a massive social transformation but a positive shift in soft power as well.

Our State spends a fortune on the likes of trade missions, Enterprise Ireland offices and expensive political trips to curry favour in elite circles in faraway places for Irish companies. However, the best sales people for Ireland are right here under our noses. They are the immigrants. These people could open doors, understand the culture, understand the mentality and do more in a few phone calls than official Irish agencies could do in a year of “glad handling”. People make the difference and we have tens of thousands of people here who have aspirations that we could harness. Now if that isn’t an expression of soft power I don’t know what is. [David McWilliams]

 

 

Joseph Nye received a testy retort from Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin for his soft power advice to China at Davos.

Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin, invited to speak at a panel on US-China-Europe ties at the World Economic Forum at Davos on Thursday, said he was offended after co-speaker Joseph S Nye Jr made a “political” comment by bringing up the territorial dispute between China and Japan over islands in the East China Sea, Chinese news portal ifeng.com reported on Friday. Nye, a former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, is best known for his ‘soft power’ theory that was adopted by China’s former president Hu Jintao and integrated into the Communist Party’s official rhetoric, argued that the troubles in the region were an example of a failed attempt at  balancing “hard” military power and “soft” economic and political power, according to a New York Times report. [SCMP]

 

Here is a decent (but somewhat simplistic) summation of China’s “soft power deficit” in relation to the United States.

China’s “soft-power deficit” has been discussed elsewhere by Nye and others. Arthur Guschin focused on “the incompatibility of the core audience in Western countries and the information product of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.” As Guschin observed, Western audiences are unlikely to be swayed by mass media material featuring “Chinese culture and language with ideologically driven news” controlled and censored by the Chinese government. Chinese academic Qiao Mu likewise commented that “government-funded efforts to promote Chinese culture overseas had failed because they were often viewed as propaganda.” When it comes to soft power, as I wrote in a recent article at the Asia Times, “China still just doesn’t get it.” Due to government censorship, top-down control, and the inconsistency of its message with domestic realities, China’s efforts to build itself “into a socialist cultural superpower” have met with little success. [Foreign Policy Blogs]

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Art Interrupted (Gugliemi’s “Tenements”)

Art Interrupted Davos Diplomap Google hubs Joseph Nye Moira Whelan propaganda soft power deficit TedXStockholm U.S. Department of State Wang Jianlin
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About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.
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