The world is a very diverse environment filled with a multitude of different people, opinions, religions, and cultures. Understanding how others think and what they want has been the basis of diplomacy since its very invention. Cultural diplomacy is an old notion as well. The early travelers, explorers, teachers, and artists could be considered the first informal cultural diplomats, as they fostered connections between the European culture and those in the Far East and West. However, the nature of diplomacy changed over centuries. In the past, it used to be an instrument of coercion. Many nations used to fight for supremacy, resources, beneficial trade agreements, and land. The concept of hard force was a common tool of promoting national interests. The knowledge of foreign cultures served only to seek out weaknesses in thinking patterns and predicting the opponent’s next move. Nowadays, cultural diplomacy, based on mutual advantage, cultural, and political exchange, dominates the field. Soft power is considered to be the trademark of the 21st century. The purpose of this paper is to identify the concept of cultural diplomacy and understanding what modern-day politicians and diplomats may do to enhance cultural and political ties between the countries.
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The common definition of cultural diplomacy entails it to be a set of actions aimed at utilizing and adopting new ideas, values, traditions, and other cultural aspects of a country or a region in order to strengthen political and economic relationships, facilitate socio-cultural friendship and cooperation, and promote national interests (“What is cultural diplomacy?” n.d.). Cultural diplomacy can be practiced on all levels – between governments, business organizations, and even on an individual level.
Cultural diplomacy has proven itself to be very effective in the 20th century, which was the time of great political and economic tensions. Particularly, cultural envoys and exchanges between the USA and the USSR during the 1970s and the 1980s managed to significantly alleviate the tensions between the two superpowers. These exchanges were important as they showed the populations of both countries “the face of the enemy,” letting both sides know that both capitalist America and communist Russia were made of people going about their ordinary lives, and none of them asking for war. This was very important, as both countries were moving towards escalating the conflict, particularly after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
There are many avenues open for strengthening cultural, diplomatic relations between countries. In the age of communication, information, and the Internet, foreign countries are not viewed as mysterious lands inhabited by people with dog heads. Almost everything about a nation’s culture, traditions, outfits, and political opinions is now on open access. Organizing art events, cultural exchange programs, student programs, and diplomatic meetings without the cold and impersonal formalities are standard practices in cultural diplomacy (“What is cultural diplomacy?” n.d.).
Since the approach emphasizes mutual gain and understanding, it revolves greatly around interpersonal relationships between numerous individuals of different countries, connecting to one another on all levels. During these meetings, diplomats should show knowledge and understanding of cultures and their heritage, promote global peace and stability, propose economic ventures that would lead to mutual gain, and emphasize global peace and stability. One very effective way of conducting cultural diplomacy is through the creation of a Culture Day – a holiday dedicated to a foreign culture, during which the populace becomes acquainted with art, songs, national costumes, and cuisine of another nation. Such practice becomes more common around the world and brings about international understanding and diplomacy to a whole new level (“What is cultural diplomacy?” n.d.).
What is cultural diplomacy? (n.d.). Web.