Tag Archives: SIS 628

Hollywood and Israel’s Cultural Diplomacy Venture

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct_DZqypU5I&w=560&h=315]

 

Joseph Nye wrote an article in 2008, “Public Diplomacy and Soft Power,” discussing power as “the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes you want.” This is a short definition of power, but one that can be used in the international communications realm easily. In discussing soft power and cultural diplomacy, they go hand in hand. Most of America’s soft power relates to exporting cultural products throughout the world. However, some countries have used Hollywood as a tool to help build cultural diplomacy with the rest of the world.

In a recent news article, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collaborated with Hollywood producers to create a film series highlighting the tourist industry in Israel.

“It’s not only a vehicle to increase tourism, it’s also to dispel various calumnies about the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Nye would definitely consider this type of vehicle a soft power approach to dispel the previous stereotypes of Israel. The proposed interest in their culture and the added influx of tourism can be a huge benefit for the country. Nye might have seen this as a way of shaping soft power.

“Once broadcast, Greenberg’s [the director’s] program is expected to draw at least 200,000 more tourists to Israel, according to Tourism Ministry estimates, giving its economy a boost and possibly setting yet another record,” the article explained.

Nye brings up another interesting term that I wanted to discuss. He thinks of hard power as diplomacy through threats and coercion., like Israel has been portrayed in the media with Palestine. However, Nye states that there can be a “smart power” that works to combine soft and hard powers in order to inform and influence. The upcoming movie might be able to influence other countries culturally, politically and diplomatically.

If the movie is viewed by different countries elite populations, then this could indeed affect viewpoints on foreign policy toward Israel. However, the unintended side-effect of this production could be that non-Western governments will view this as another Israeli partnership with the U.S. and could further perpetuate myths of coercion and incite further violence against the U.S. or Israel. Both sides of the coin have serious repercussions, but the overall viewpoint of Netanyahu is that it will help pull back the curtain on the history and culture of his country. Either way, it does bring the idea of using the media as a medium for strong discourse about perceived foreign stereotypes and possibly leading to a change in attitudes of foreign diplomacy toward Israel.

 

Giving the Power Back to Governments? The Essence of Transformational Public Diplomacy.

Copeland (2009) advocates for the need to restructure the Foreign Service and integrate the classic diplomacy with the public diplomacy dimension in order to better serve purposes of development, security and long-term strategic relationships between states. Interestingly, to me it seems like a call for utilizing public diplomacy to give decision-makers the power they have lost with the rise of globalization and public diplomacy.

I think that the diplomatic efforts in Syria and Iran are a good example of growing unpopularity of war and an increased focus on diplomatic dialog. It seems that the framework of the talks tried to bond together issues of development in these countries with security concerns on the other side, just as suggested by Copeland. However these efforts do not fall under the framework of public diplomacy, rather it’s simply a new age where dialog is preferred to war (because of undesired financial and social consequences of warfare). The governments and not the people are still the ones managing this dialog. Moreover for now these efforts did not produce particularly positive outcomes.

Also, issues concerning security and development require vast financial resources and a high degree of cooperation on behalf of regulatory agencies. This can hardly be achieved by PD. Advocacy and networking are very important in the process but the essential decisions still go back to the governmental level. The root causes of underdevelopment and inequality remain historical governmental policies that can be changed mainly at the higher rank of decision-making and not by diplomats becoming better at networking with local populations.

So from my perspective it seems that the concept of transformational public diplomacy is essentially about using advocacy to empower governments to take actions on issues of development and security. Until now PD was mainly used to promote a rather shallow dialog between populations, focusing on softer issues. TPD is trying to make PD relevant to the more crucial decision-making, but still, between governments.

Conflict Kitchen: Dialogue Through Food

http://conflictkitchen.org/photos/
http://conflictkitchen.org/photos/

This is a very interesting TED talk about “gastrodiplomacy,” cultural diplomacy through a country’s culinary delights. Among the several gastrodiplomacy examples she raised during the lecture, I’d like to focus here on “Conflict Kitchen.”

Conflict Kitchen is a takeout restaurant in Pittsburg, which only serves food from countries that the United Stated is in conflict with. Previously, they served food from Cuba, Afghanistan, Iran, and Venezuela, and now they are serving North Korean food.
What is appealing about this project is how they prepare and serve the food. They worked collaboratively with North Korean defectors to create the menu and to develop the recipes. And the food is served packaged in wrappers, which include interviews with North Korean people on the food, culture, and politics of their country. Each interview section includes multiple perspectives and sometime they contradict to each other; it also includes criticisms about their government. That is, the customers not only get a tasty meal from little-known countries but a chance to get a broader view about the country “outside of the polarizing rhetoric of governmental politics and the narrow lens of media headlines,” and to start discussion.

Both their planning process and the way the food is served involve interactive activities. Although they rotate the menus every few months in relation to current geopolitical events, the project itself seems to have no or very little governments’ involvement.
Distant from political control and interactive structure are the two characteristics described in Gienow-Hecht’s argument about successful cultural diplomacy.

-Emi

Hip Hop Diplomacy

In Arendt’s article this week about the value of cultural diplomats, he talks about the special set of tools these diplomats have when arranging cultural programming and knowing exactly what kind of people, artists, students, etc… to engage to make the most impact. Nick Cull’s Huffington Post article focuses on  three aspects of resurgent cultural diplomacy (especially through music): “the prestige gift”,  “cultural information”, and “dialogue and collaboration”.

I thought of these articles when reading this interview with Toni Blackman, the State Department’s first “hip hop ambassador”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ruthblatt/2014/02/26/hip-hop-puts-america-in-a-good-light-through-the-state-departments-cultural-ambassador-program/

Since 2001, Blackman has been on assignment doing workshops, lectures, teaching master classes, performing concerts and collaborating and recording with local artists. In this way, her function fulfills all three of Cull’s criteria for successful cultural diplomacy: it can be considered both “a prestige gift” and  “cultural information”, as it brings light to one of the United States’ best known vernacular music traditions, and also, through her work with local hip-hop artists, it provides opportunity for “dialogue and collaboration.”

Hip-hop is uniquely positioned to be successful in public diplomacy efforts since, as Blackman explains, it is “accessible. You can create hip hop with a pencil and a pen on a desk or you don’t even need that you can beat box with your mouth and create a drum track.” This ease of creation, and the way it can be used in any language to express a range of emotions and social concerns, makes hip-hop a particularly universal tool.

One of the most powerful examples of cultural diplomacy working towards change that Blackman talks about is an assignment she undertook in the Congo, where she did an artist in residence workshop with local hip hop artists, male and female, and then collaborated on a public service announcement to end violence against women. In an example of the sort of give-and-take and collaboration that should ideally be part of more cultural diplomacy efforts, Blackman paired up with a Congolese hip-hop leader to facilitate the workshop and the project.

You can find the resulting video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coIkYlzQlNY

Offering Direct Legal Benefits to a Country’s Citizens as a New PD Strategy?

Is it possible that some governments came to a conclusion that granting citizens of other countries special benefits is a good technique for winning hearts and minds? It sure looks like it in two news pieces that drew my attention this week- Germany and Russia.

This week Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived with an official visit to Israel. The biggest headline of this visit was a signing of two very progressive agreements- one gaining young Israeli citizens an automatic provision of temporary working permits when visiting Germany and the other offering Israeli citizens consular services through German embassies in countries with which Israel doesn’t have diplomatic relations (unfortunately there are quite a few). Though officially marketed as a mutual progressive agreement between the two governments, to me it looks much more as a “Forget all the bad we did and come and like us!” call for young talented Israelis with potential to contribute to German economy, who might still have their doubt due to historic residues.

Second somewhat similar act appeared on the website of one of the largest Russian News agencies (unfortunately I can’t seem to find a source in English for now): Russian Parliament is  considering a bill granting automatic citizenship to every Ukrainian citizen who chooses to claim one. Here it seems like an even more brutal act of reaching out directly to citizens and trying to attract them to the country. Of course the long shared history of these states and the predominant nature of Russia in this history explain the case.

So could this become a phenomenon? I think that this is actually a genius technique of reaching out to people directly even if it’s done by signing agreements between governments.  As opposed to other PD techniques we explored that usually target specific audiences within a nation, here we are witnessing acts that reach out to the whole population creating potential for a more significant and direct impact.

And here are the articles:

http://itar-tass.com/politika/1004761

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/politics/2014/02/24/German-consulates-assist-Israelis-worldwide_10134193.html

Qatar is Off the Message

 

FBL-WC2014-QAT-FIFA-TROPHY

As I start my research on Qatar’s public diplomacy strategy, I was surprised by this week’s reports following the death of an Indian worker in the 2022 World Cup host preparations. What surprised me was not the fact of the death or the subsequent statistics revealing high death rates and a range of abuses against migrant workers in Qatar, but rather the hesitant and unsatisfying reactions by Qatari officials.

Scholarly literature that I had reviewed so far  (Azran, 2013; Barakat, 2012; Peterson, 2006) suggests that Qatar has skilfully adopted some of the main principles of public diplomacy and soft power. Qatar makes smart use of PD techniques, frames its messages and avoids contradictions between domestic communication and mediated diplomacy, a technique suggested as especially important by Enthman (2008). However with the case of the Indian worker, it seems that Qatar has lost its grip of clever PD. It started by denying the reports, moved on to claiming the death figures to be ‘normal’ and continued with making completely unconvincing statements to reason the numbers such as: “Indians make up the largest community in Qatar… twice the number of Qatari nationals” (Ali Bin Sumaikh al-Marri, the Head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee).

My personal thoughts on this are that Qatar, as many other states including the US, forgets that public image is a sum of various variables. While it’s important to focus on specific issues where a state possesses competitive advantage (Qatar focuses strongly on mediation), other issues should not be overlooked. In case of Qatar there is definitely not enough focus on addressing and framing its questionable human rights practices inside the country.

To read the story:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26260765

Super Bowl 2014 and the Power of Partnerships

‘Invisible’ by U2

For those who watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, it was hard to miss the huge campaign by U2 and Bank of America. During the game U2 have performed and released their new single for free download within 24 hours after the game, while for each download Bank of America donated one dollar to an organization cofounded by Bono in 2006 to combat AIDS. The campaign proved a tremendous success raising $3 Million for AIDS fight.

In light of recent discussion in class about the significance of partnerships, this campaign is a great evidence for growing importance of cross sector partnerships when it comes to raising awareness and/or funds for a cause. It is hard to imagine a government-led campaign of the same scope becoming equally successful. Moreover this is a perfect win-win situation in which both- the Bank of America and Bono significantly leverage their social presence while an important cause is being supported.

Continue reading Super Bowl 2014 and the Power of Partnerships

The Peril of Ignoring Domestic Audiences

Whilst scouring the web for intriguing articles concerning public diplomacy, I came across this blog, which is run by the U.N. In this article, the author synthesizes material learned from a conference titled “Digital Diplomacy + Social Good”, which was jointly led by the United Nations Foundation and the Digital Diplomacy Coalition, into eight salient tips for practitioners to better engage their audiences in this new age of technology.

I found that this article addressed several of the major themes of this class, with the first illustrating the evolution that public diplomacy is currently experiencing. Gone are the days where there existed a wide chasm between practitioner and audience as well as the monopolization of the entire process of public diplomacy by political elites. In its stead we observe a more inclusive definition of who a public diplomat is (we all are! All of the suggestions from the blog author can be used by top diplomats as well as common lay people to help influence others) while also recognizing the need for a stronger, more active engagement between practitioner and audience.

Furthermore, I thought this piece, when viewed from a domestic lens, dovetailed quite well with Huijgh’s article about the domestic dimension of public diplomacy. I feel we sometimes can get caught up with how we project ourselves to an international audience to the point we take for granted our domestic audience. This can lead to issues later on, especially since domestic members are potential diplomats in their own right. One need not look far to recognize that the U.S. government, with its series of major missteps including WikiLeaks, the Snowden Incident, and increasingly bitter, unproductive political catfights i.e. 2013 shutdown, is in very much need of damage control with its own citizens. All of the suggestions detailed in the article can be very much utilized by the government to help repair its image with its own citizens. Failure to do so will lead to issues within the international scene, which is best encapsulated by Huijgh’s prescient declaration that “internal legitimacy remains a precondition for international respect.”

The Need for Synergy in Modern-Day Diplomacy

This week I found some of Kelley’s (2010) ideas slightly corresponding with my post from week 1 where I suggested that public diplomacy doesn’t really change the rules of the diplomatic ‘game’, but rather adds a publicly available dimension to it and creates an illusion of power in the hands of the people.

Kelley implies that public diplomacy has created a plethora of messages by non-state actors that forms various networks and alliances. There are big gaps between the positions of these different actors and between their positions and the official diplomatic messages. Despite the clear benefits of this more democratic form of conducting diplomacy, Kelley stresses the need for synergy in order to direct the power of separate actors to a concrete action. The best way to coordinate positions and create this synergy remains the official diplomatic channel that can unite the non-governmental actors and communicate the message to the relevant policy makers.

Moreover Kelley suggests that ‘big’ decisions such as signing of international treaties or legislation towards creation of new norms are still executed almost exclusively by official policy makers communicating through official diplomatic channels. Here as well, it implies from the article that the best way for the ‘new diplomats’ (p.293) to communicate their messages is still by joining forces with “their official counterparts” (p. 293).

So it looks like the essential power yet remains in the hands of the ‘old diplomats’ (ibid). The new types of diplomacy such as public and cultural diplomacy are important in filling in the gaps in governmental actions, however the new ways do not appear to replace the classic diplomatic communication between states. 

Transforming Arms into Art

Transforming Arms into Art

Throne of weapons. © Kester 2004

Throne of weapons. © Kester 2004

After the Mozambique civil war, millions of weapons left in the country. In 1995, the Christian Council of Mozambique started Transforming Arms into Tools project, which offered people farming equipment and tools in exchange for guns. Then a group of Mozambican artists turned them into sculptures.

I wonder this is a part of the ‘new’ public diplomacy Pamment describes.

Firstly, it says the project is supported by the Mozambique government. Exhibitions of the sculptures were held in twelve countries. Furthermore, I found that an exhibition came to Japan last summer, which was realized by a Japanese professor of African studies, who learned about this project and asked the artists to create new artworks to display.
In the BBC website, Carey from British Museum says the sculpture speaks the will to “overcome violence through practical and creative means which resonates with people at a personal and collective level.” Also, the article describes the sculpture, “unusually for such a commemorative piece,” it “speaks to us of hope and resolution.” Moreover, an audience of the exhibition made a comment on the website that he was so impressed that he’d like to help teach people to make sculptures in Africa.

According to Pamment, while the ‘old’ public diplomacy has been a “one-way flow of information”, a ‘new’ public diplomacy” is “two-way engagement with the public.” He also mentions that audiences are now “active and greater emphasis is placed on how they make meaning and how they feed back into the communication process.”

This project seems to have been quite successful in physically transforming the weapons into artworks, and changing the negative image of violence into peace. The project also generated two-way engagement of the public, which eventually brought new artworks to Japan, and might bring an audience to Mozambique to teach people to make sculptures.

Emi

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Other related articles I referred to:

-“Transforming Arms into Tools”, ALMA,

http://www.almalink.org/transtool.htm

-Mescla, the website of a furniture designer Carla Botosso, who have been involved in the projects.

http://www.mescla.dk/projects.html

-The article about the exhibition of the sculptures in Japan

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201307110071

-“A History of the World: Throne of Weapons,” BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/97OnxVXaQkehlbliKKDB6A