Culture Posts: An Interactive Blog & Discussion Forum

Welcome to the opening entry of Culture Posts, an interactive blog for exploring the cultural underbelly of public diplomacy. Over the next two years (2011-13), I hope that you will join me, collecting and discussing your insights on the hidden, and often times not so hidden, aspects of culture in public diplomacy. - R.S. Zaharna


Basketball Diplomacy in CNN’s Court
January 13, 2014
Sports diplomacy is often presented as a slam dunk approach for building relations across political divides. Last week veteran NBA star Dennis Rodman took a shot at “basketball diplomacy” in North Korea and showed how professed good intentions can...Read More


Public Diplomacy in the Ancient World
November 26, 2013
The study of diplomacy and more recently public diplomacy have been cast in a relatively contemporary Western context. European diplomatic scholars frequently cite the embassies established in early Renaissance Italy as the origin of modern diplomacy...Read More


Domestic Stakeholders in Public Diplomacy, Lessons from Brazil
July 1, 2013
What happens when the domestic public seemingly overtakes a country’s public diplomacy agenda? Brazil looked like it had scored a double goal when it secured the bid to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics...Read More


Five Critical Roles of the Domestic Publics in PD
June 25, 2013
This Culture Post takes a closer look at five critical roles of the domestic public in public diplomacy. Because traditional public diplomacy has focused primarily on foreign publics, the role of the domestic public may have been overlooked rather than absent...Read More


Who is the Public in Public Diplomacy?
May 22, 2013
Over the past decade there has been a near universal surge of interest in public diplomacy. Yet, as more nations venture into the PD realm it is becoming increasingly clear that understandings of PD concepts and practices are anything but universal. One area where different views are emerging is the role of the public...Read More


Individualism, Collectivism - and Relationalism
Jan 28, 2013
In honor of the New Year (both West and East), I would like to share a relatively new lens for viewing relations in public diplomacy. Many may have heard of the terms individualism, which privileges the individual, and collectivism...Read More


Exposing the Battle of U.S. Values in the Smith-Mundt Debate
June 06, 2012
Greetings from Washington. Along with the warmer temperatures and afternoon summer thunderstorms, a firestorm has erupted over a Congressional amendment related to U.S. public diplomacy. I put this post under Culture Posts, because the ferocity of the debate has had little to do with the technical aspects or merits of the legislation...Read More


Exposing the Battle of U.S. Values in the Smith-Mundt Debate
June 06, 2012
Greetings from Washington. Along with the warmer temperatures and afternoon summer thunderstorms, a firestorm has erupted over a Congressional amendment related to U.S. public diplomacy. I put this post under Culture Posts, because the ferocity of the debate has had little to do with the technical aspects or merits of the legislation...Read More


Oscar Lessons in the Persuasive Power of Stories and Storytelling
March 08, 2012
When Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi took the stage to accept the Oscar for A Separation, he spoke of his film as a counter narrative to talk of war and offer a view of Iran “through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” During times of escalating political rhetoric, films can help shape and, as Farhadi hopes, reshape national images...Read More


Capturing the Ahh and Aha! Experience in Cultural Diplomacy
January 09, 2012
In previous Culture Posts, I talked about the goal of developing an “in-awareness” approach to culture in public diplomacy. In the comments section, as well as other CPD posts, important observations have been raised about the challenges of cultural diplomacy. Developing a stronger “in-awareness” approach may be the key to designing and implementing rewarding cultural diplomacy initiatives...Read More


Developing Cultural In-Awareness in Public Diplomacy
December 28, 2011
One of the goals of this blog series is to develop greater awareness and knowledge of how culture intervenes in public diplomacy. In public diplomacy, culture’s web of influence spans across policy, practice, and research, and encompasses both sponsor and intended public...Read More


Exploring the Cultural Underbelly of Public Diplomacy
November 14, 2011
Culture, as an underlying force that shapes global public diplomacy, remains curiously unexplored. Most focus on the positive, visible side of culture. As a soft power resource, culture is often viewed as a product for export that can help improve a country’s image. In cultural diplomacy, culture is a vehicle for bringing people together...Read More