Tag Archives: week 8

“Who run the world?….GIRLS!”

Most of you probably get the Beyonce reference in my blog post title, if not, all that needs to be said in order to make sense is that it is also the lyric in a song about progressive women being at the center of civilization. Moving forward, my blog this week focuses on a recent interview in Women of China with Sun Ping, Exec.Director at Renmin University Opera Center on the Chinese woman’s innately dominant role in Chinese public diplomacy. Although (according to Hofstede), China consists of a predominantly “masculine” culture with large power distances in societal hierarchies, Sun Ping’s sentiments help to reframe these sweeping cultural generalizations and unveil the contributions Chinese women provide in both the social and political infrastructure of the country. In a collectivist society like China’s, the importance of family and honor for one’s family takes immense precedence in their culture. Sun Ping places women at the core of this basic societal foundation: “If woman can endeavor in promoting morality and civilization of family, serious incidents will reduce in the society because a woman’s role is IRREPLACEABLE.” I believe the female tendency to have polychronic time orientation as well as greater realistic empathy have time and again shown how these predisposition can aid relationships building cross-culturally.  Sun Ping’s interview concluded with her emphasis on making family as well as work, equally important priorities. The family unit social structure, high levels of collectivism and power distance, have been weaknesses in creating cultural synergy with cultures beyond China’s borders. However, the Chinese government as well as its many fine academic institutions are making large advances towards public diplomacy education AND implementation.

It was as recent as last week that Renmin University began a research institute on public diplomacy that brings together the university’s Schools of Communication, International Studies, Journalism, and the Peking Opera. This development reflects the country’s growing interest in enhancing not only their national image, but international diplomatic literacy as well. Sun Ping reiterates this growing interest and importance, but additionally, her emphasis on gender roles, I believe, is reminiscent of the continuity of strong cultural values which once kept women subservient to now be seen as a unique advantage.

Article link: http://www.womenofchina.cn/html/womenofchina/report/170878-1.htm


Update for Week 8 – Cultural Diplomacy

Greetings, All.

I’m mindful of the possibility of intense weather and increased potential for losing electricity/internet connections in the next 24 hours, so I wanted to post this soonest.

As mentioned last week, Aimee Fullman will be our guest speaker this Wednesday. You can read about her work at http://www.aimeefullman.com/ .  Ms. Fullman cautions that the website is in need of updating, but on Wednesday she will share a very interesting, tailored slide presentation and more on her multi-faceted story working in the field of cultural relations. With her presentation during the second half of class, and several students leading discussion on readings, an inspiring class is in store.

Please also monitor Blackboard announcements and AU mail for updates (as long as I have electric/internet connectivity).

-Debbie Trent

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: