In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Cultural Diplomacy

  • Introduction
  • Reception and Impact of Cultural Diplomacy Initiatives
  • The Dynamics of Cultural Diplomacy
  • Journal Special Issues
  • Key Research Centers Relevant to the Study of Cultural Diplomacy
  • Blogs and Websites

International Relations Cultural Diplomacy
Patricia Goff
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 November 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0202


One of the key themes in the literature on cultural diplomacy is its relationship to public diplomacy. Though the latter is of a more recent vintage, it has in some ways eclipsed or subsumed cultural diplomacy. For some, cultural diplomacy is a component of public diplomacy; however, this view is not universally shared. As a result, this bibliography is usefully read in conjunction with the Oxford Bibliographies in International Relations article Public Diplomacy. It is also worth noting that the conversation about cultural diplomacy increasingly overlaps with burgeoning areas of research into things like heritage and digital diplomacy. I cannot do justice to these literatures here, but a small number of references are included here to acknowledge the importance of this related research.

Conceptual Discussions

There is some overlap between this section and Empirical Case Studies. Some works could reasonably be placed in either category. There is no consensus about the definition of cultural diplomacy. Partly, this stems from disagreement about cultural diplomacy’s relationship to public diplomacy, but also cultural relations. Therefore, the works in this section are divided between the two categories of Cultural Diplomacy (Alting von Geusau 2009, Cavaliero 1986, Clarke 2016, Cull 2008, Cummings 2003, Gienow-Hecht and Donfried 2010, Goff 2013, Mark 2010, Schneider 2003, Villanueva Rivas 2018) and Cultural Relations (Brison and Jessup 2021; Brown 2021; Iriye 2015; Mitchell 1986; Rivera 2015; Winter 2021; Wright and Higginbotham 2019; Wyszomirski, et al. 2003) to acknowledge this latter concept as a precursor, complement, and alternative to cultural diplomacy. Contestation also emerges from where various definitions place their emphasis. Some widely cited definitions focus on the supposed key agent of cultural diplomacy, governments. From this perspective, only arts initiatives that include the official participation of governments to achieve foreign policy goals count as cultural diplomacy. Others focus on cultural diplomacy’s desired effect—greater mutual understanding. By this standard, unofficial activities that do not include the direct involvement of governments can count as cultural diplomacy because such efforts can achieve the desired outcome. The most recent publications about cultural diplomacy still start with an acknowledgment of the contested nature of the concept and some effort by the authors to situate themselves in this debate. Increasingly, critiques of the limits of Cultural Diplomacy are giving way to a preference for Cultural Relations as a key conceptual term. The latter term arguably provides more analytical room to consider non-state actors, as well as objectives that move beyond national interests, among other things.

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