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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.19
Fears, Anxieties, and Imperial Swagger: Soft Power and the (re)Making of the European Union’s Cultural Diplomacy
This presentation analyzes the emergence of the EU’s cultural diplomacy and the growing institutionalization of a common EU cultural foreign policy starting with early 2000s. The potential of cultural diplomacy in advancing European foreign policy goals and promoting EU’s “soft power” has been advocated by a coalition of influential cultural organizations such at the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) network, and national cultural institutes and arm’s length cultural associations of large and powerful EU member states, such as the Goethe-Institut, Institut-Français, and the British Council. I argue that the fears and anxieties of Europe’s declining cultural influence - coupled with concerns over the prowess of emerging powers such as Brazil, India, and China - were the stepping stones for the emergence of the EU’s cultural diplomacy. These fantasies and anxieties were magnified by national institutes of culture and European cultural organizations and platforms. This paper analyzes what sorts of structures of feeling and subjectivities the EU apparatus calls forth in a (formally) post-colonial present. I argue that European policy actors and the EU are attempting to simultaneously know and not know its colonial history, to repress and reframe, to suppress and remember, to ignore and acknowledge. EU cultural diplomacy and its proponents are caught between these two conflicting demands, while being positioned within a broader policy field that valorizes the strengthening of the EU as a global actor and the promotion of its soft power.