Cultural Diplomacy and International Cultural Relations in Twentieth-Century Europe

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13 Citations (Scopus)


In a 2004 review essay on transnational history published in the pages of this journal, Akira Iriye discussed the ‘internationalisation of scholarship’ and concluded that ‘historians easily cross oceans and traverse national boundaries’. The books under review here offer a striking example of this internationalisation, not only in their geographical remit but equally in the transnational interests and collaboration of their authors. Three of them are edited volumes – which, in their showcasing of different approaches, methodologies and topics, are particularly suited to addressing the hybrid nature of cultural diplomacy. Their rich variety of case studies reveals the interplay of micro and macro history, as well as the complex relations between local, national and transnational, as well as between governmental and non-governmental historical actors. The fourth volume is a jointly authored work by François Chaubet and Laurent Martin that presents a synthetic approach to cultural exchange, the relations between culture and policy and cultural globalisation. Together these recent books represent the evolution of a cultural approach to diplomatic history and international relations, epitomised by an interest in ‘soft power’ and closely shaped by the development of transnational history, entangled history (histoire croisée) and the study of cultural transfers. As such, they allow a more cumulative consideration of the roles and meanings of cultural diplomacy in twentieth-century Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-385
JournalContemporary European History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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