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Cultural Diplomacy & Multiculturalism

multiMulticulturalism is a concept that has led to controversial debates in the media, and more importantly, in politics. Particularly in the past years, as several Europeans leaders fuelled the debate with controversial declarations. In 2010 Angela Merkel stated that German multiculturalism has utterly failed. The idea of a harmonic pluralistic multi-ethnic and multicultural society was not borne out of the facts and she therefore called for higher efforts by immigrants in integrating into the German society, such as learning the language, and participating more actively in the labour market.

To put multiculturalism in practice seems to be an issue in the contemporary, globalized world.

Cultural Diplomacy is therefore the most powerful tool that inspired people have to strengthening intercultural relations and to overcome cultural differences. Cultural Diplomacy has been defined by the American political scientist and author Dr. Milton C. Cummings  as: “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding.”

multi 3Cultural diplomacy may therefore best be described as the initiation or facilitation of the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether they promote national interests, build relationships or enhance sociocultural understanding (ICD 2013 [online]). Against the background of societal conflicts between different ethnic and cultural groups the beneficial potential that practices of cultural diplomacy may bring about results evident.

The large potential for cultural diplomacy and its practices in ameliorating the integration process towards a successful multicultural society. There are two levels on which governments should exercise cultural diplomacy.

The first and  “horizontal” level involves interactions among the government of the recipient country and governments of the countries recording heavy flux of emigration. In fact, mutual understanding and trust are the basis for a well-functioning society. Moreover this dimension also should encompass exchanges and relations between different civil society groups on platforms provided by state institutions.

The second level, the “vertical” one, entails a two-way cultural relation between the government and migration-background civil society groups.

Multiculturalism is an aspect that has irreversibly been affecting the structure of our society. The challenge is represented by the acknowledgement of the responsibilities that states and civil society bear in respect to both claims for further integration and claims for the preservation of individual identities.

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The London Art as Cultural Diplomacy Conference

“Contemporary International Dialogue: Art-based Developments and Culture Shared between Nations”August 21st, 2013

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