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Intercultural exchange and public diplomacy

Published on 22 March 2010
Updated on 05 April 2024

An experience recently reported by the NY Times shows what an interactive public diplomacy strategy should be about. Cultural diplomacy has been used as part of US strategy for public diplomacy in a project sponsored by the State Department called DanceMotion USA. The project tries to reach nontraditional audiences in countries that might not have entirely favorable ideas about the United States.

In the end, the project is actually a two-way street: people involved in it affirm they are learning about other cultures with more breadth and depth, and some say that they have received much more than they give to the children involved in the workshops. The impact of the project on the image of the US is hard to measure, but being able to foster intercultural exchange is a huge step towards a sustainably positive outcome of US public diplomacy strategy.

Could this level of human interaction be achieved online? How to deal with cultural differences in a constructively manner in a computer mediated communication?

6 replies
  1. Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic says:

    “Public diplomacy and
    “Public diplomacy and propaganda” — March 27, 2010 by Marília Maciel —
    I don´t believe there is a way to clearly draw a line between public diplomacy and propaganda. Public diplomacy strategies deliberately spread information or ideas with aim to reinforce the international position of a given State, while “consciously spreading information or ideas to help or to harm a person, group or nation” is the definition of propaganda. But I would definitely like to hear more opinions about that.
    What I think is disturbing in the case you made reference to – a very interesting case by the way – is the lack of coherence between internal politics and foreign politics. But nowadays it is increasingly difficult for diplomats to send different messages to internal and external audiences. One of the results of the ubiquity of the Internet and the acceleration of communications is that the same message arrives at different parts of the globe at the same time, making it harder for diplomats to target a particular segment and send messages that will effectively communicate with different audiences. It also makes it harder to separate internal and foreign politics, as the US did on this episode.

  2. Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic says:

    “Jazz Ambassadors” — March
    “Jazz Ambassadors” — March 26, 2010 by Ginger —
    I was only vaguely aware of this use of cultural ambassadorship, and your post stimulated me to learn more about it. Is was indeed an excellent example, and we should try to generate access to more information about it. There is an article and photos available at https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Arts/2009/0710/p17s06-algn.html, but I found no videos.
    This opens a whole new view of Public Diplomacy for me, and eventually provoked the question: where does Public Diplomacy end and propaganda begin?

  3. Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic says:

    “Cultural Exchange online ?
    “Cultural Exchange online ? Sure !” — March 26, 2010 by Anonymous —
    Video & podcasts and other live VOIP can bring remote audiences to cultural events. It’s not the same as being present at a performance, but viewers can appreciate the energy of the moment through a video. Nations could make videos of cultural ambassadors from the past available too.
    Let’s see public access to films of the US sponsored jazz ambassadors during the 1960s to Europe, Asia and Africa. That kind of interaction must have been amazing.

  4. Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic says:

    “Public Diplomacy and its
    “Public Diplomacy and its mission” — April 6, 2010 by Zemaida —
    If we refer to traditional diplomacy and its definition(s), its role or mission has to do with influence on the behavior of other states v.s. you by taking specific actions or by conducting public diplomacy.
    THe use of PD is an increasingly popular diplomatic technique in a communication-linked world. It consists of propaganda to create an overall image that enhances a country’s(individual) to achieve its diplomatic objectives or to promote values.
    As such, I would agree with Efe in the fact that it is very difficult to put a line between PD and propaganda.

  5. Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic says:

    “Public diplomacy and
    “Public diplomacy and propaganda” — March 28, 2010 by Efe —
    If we look at public diplomacy and propaganda as value-neutral terms, it is very difficult to find any differences. At the end of the day, propaganda is a mass persuasion method and started out as a harmless method. Unfortunately, we witnessed mischievous propaganda practices.
    The difference between PD & Propaganda lies in the nature of the messages. PD is seen as a way of creating communication bridges. Then again, it is possible to abuse this well-meant communication method.

  6. Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic says:

    “Re: Cultural Exchange online
    “Re: Cultural Exchange online?” — March 27, 2010 by Marília Maciel —
    I totally agree with you on the important role played by technology and particularly by videos to increase the possibility of knowing more aspects about other cultures and of reinforcing cultural diplomacy. However, I believe that some aspects should be considered:
    1) If we agree with the perspective that public diplomacy is more effective if it opens room for true interaction among the parties involved, then watching a video or listening to podcast is still a step behind, as this lacks real interaction and is still a one-way communication.
    2) There are some possibilities to make the situation described in topic 1 more interactive, if we are open to new ways of producing culture, such as the creation of remix, for instance. Remixing is a good way to establish a real dialogue, a two-way cultural communication. Nevertheless, there are several issues that need to be tackled, particularly in the field of videos, such as the importance of open standards, open software and open licenses [https://openvideoalliance.org/] for videos to reach their full communicative potential.
    3) Even if we do establish intercultural exchanges online (be it through video or by any other means), there is always the problem of cultural differences. Sometimes one lacks the cultural background, the symbols, the expressions to avoid misunderstanding, lack of understanding or communication noise [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication].
    This debate is very interesting and I would love to continue it.


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