DIY Cultural Diplomacy is a project in development. It is introduced here in order to welcome comments, conversation, thoughts and hopefully inspire collaboration and/or partnerships. I’m currently looking for funding and opportunities such as residencies, but also strongly considering a PhD.
In March 2019, the Swedish Arts Council announced a vacancy: Cultural Attaché in Beijing. The job description mentioned overarching tasks such as stimulating and deepen contact zones between cultural institutions and the independent cultural sector in China and Sweden. The job description informed that the Cultural Attaché’s mission is to facilitate the advancement of the cultural relationship between China and Sweden – the use of culture to promote Sweden and its values: Democracy, Equality & Openness. The Swedish Arts Council wanted someone with experience of initiating, leading, managing, and presenting cultural projects; someone that is deeply anchored in Sweden’s cultural life and knowledgeable of cultural policy. But what does that mean? What is Sweden’s cultural life, and what counts as knowledge of Swedish cultural policy? These are important questions because, as of recently, the legitimacy of Swedish cultural policy has been questioned – its stated objectives in relation to the acheived results (Swedish Agency for Cultural policy Analysis 2019).
While firmer anti-discrimination and anti-racism doctrines have been institutionalized in the EU since the early 2000’s, ethno-nationalism is increasing. A similar parallax is present in publicly funded culture: National interests permeate old and traditional cultural institutions, making inclusivity conditional and diversity divisive. Questions of why one should and how one can engage with this situation are hereby being raised. This challenge is not only political but also epistemological. New methods and faculties to engage with segregated yet empowering cultures need to be explored. And I believe that an engagement with Hip-Hop can inform that purpose.
Different cities. Different countries. Different cultures. Different continents. No matter where I went, a different kind of hip-hop existed. I knew the artists had stories, and music was the way they shared.Christian Virgil Reyes, Aug 13, 2018
The faculty of diplomacy enables an exploration of the juncture where alterity, hybridity and transnational relations reside. Cultural diplomacy can be seen as the consolidation of national cultural policy and international relations strategies. By focusing on the performative dimension of cultural diplomacy, I can explore new ways of thinking about and doing cultural diplomacy.
The simple and core idea here, then, is that politics is more than what the established institutions choose to privilege or recognise. It exceeds established spaces, routinised practices and procedures, but it does not occur ex nihilo, and it needs, as Arendt recognised, the security and stability granted by them.Mustafa Dikeç, 2016
A) The DIY Cultural Diplomacy project is about appropriating cultural diplomacy. It will discuss research, have reflexive entries on the process, and share curated audio-visual content that can inform further inquiry. A diplomatic visit to China would be planned – to stimulate and facilitate subcultural relations, and promote values such as: Respect, Keeping it Real & Equity. The project would then unfold through a blog – which is seen as a potent scientific format (explored in Situating Serenity).
B) A PhD… (to be continued)