Welcome to week 2

Different actors are involved in shaping cultural diplomacy in the contemporary world. We will take a close look at the role of international organisations and local authorities and explore the role of the private sector and of civil society and raise the question of whether the role of the state is declining or increasing in the contemporary context.

During the first week, we looked at the different concepts used to designate the idea and practice of cultural diplomacy. We have seen that what distinguishes terms like public diplomacy and international cultural relations are not only intentions, but also the actors involved. The notion of cultural diplomacy seems to imply that the focus is on state actors. However, states are not the sole relevant actors. The goal of this week is to analyse the different actors involved and understand their role and how they interact in shaping international cultural relations.

First, we will explore the different levels of governance involved in international cultural relations. We will start by looking at the role of international organisations focusing on case studies like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the International Organization of La Francophonie to understand how cultural relations can be organised in such multilateral settings. Then we will focus on regions, provinces, and cities, which are often overlooked as actors in the international relations field. We will analyse the kinds of actions that they are able to develop on an international scale.

After exploring the multilevel governance of international cultural relations, we will look beyond public actors. On the one hand, we will assess the rising influence of the private sector in the conduct of cultural diplomacy. We will review different cases of foundations and multinational corporations that develop international cultural relations. On the other hand, we will explore the role of civil society and individuals, looking at how artists and NGOs can raise global issues or connect different cultures.

This analysis of the different actors of cultural diplomacy will lead us to ask two questions:

Does the rising role of various non-state actors challenge or reinforce the role of states?

What is the special role of non-state actors in cultural diplomacy? How do they transform the way cultural diplomacy is practiced?

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This article is from the free online course:

Cultural Diplomacy

European University Institute (EUI)

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