Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Understanding the Role of Cultural Products in Cultural Diplomacy

Arts and Humanities Research Council logo

The project is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

About This Project

States often undertake 'cultural diplomacy' to improve their image with foreign populations and further their foreign policy aims. International Relations experts have talked about cultural exchange in terms of exerting 'soft power' over other countries and their populations. However, such research has not adequately taken into account how cultural products promoted as part of cultural diplomacy are received abroad and how foreign audiences engage with those products.

Aims & Objectives

This project aims to developing new methodologies for understanding this process. It seeks to develop those methodologies by bringing together specialists in Cultural Studies with researchers in International Relations.

By facilitating an interaction between researchers from International Relations and Cultural Studies, the value of both disciplines to policymakers in this area will be enhanced. The project will also provide the theoretical underpinning for the development of future research, which will focus on the practical application of insights from Cultural Studies in the field of cultural diplomacy. The objectives include: 

  • To bring together a panel of international relations specialists with an interest incultural diplomacy with specialists in cultural studies.
  • To consider the future of cultural diplomacy in light of globalised dissemination of cultural products.
  • To make academics with an interest in cultural diplomacy more aware of the priorities and needs of policymakers when addressing this issue.
  • To develop a network of non-academic institutions with an interest in questions of cultural diplomacy.
  • To refine research questions which can form the basis for further investigation.

Funder & Beneficiaries

The project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under  the theme of Translating Cultures. As the funding body proclaims, 'the need for diverse cultures to understand and communicate with each other is stronger than ever, and "translation" is an essential tool in ensuring that languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives can be mutually shared and comprehended.'

'We need to consider not only the complex mechanisms of translating one language into another, but also more broadly how cultural exchange and transmission functions in a variety of circumstances and periods.' This project is designed to develop a new theoretical framework which will allow experts in the field of cultural diplomacy to offer better-founded and more useful advice to policymakers in the future.

Academic beneficiaries will include those who working in the fields of International Relations and Cultural Studies. Both sets of scholars will further benefit from the opening up of new research pathways which can be developed in future projects.