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Museums for world peace? The pros and cons of cultural diplomacy

What kind of relationships should Western cultural institutions have with their counterparts abroad, and to what purpose? What role, if any, can and should museums play on the international stage?


‘Cultural diplomacy’ is in vogue. The idea is that museums, galleries, libraries, art, theatre and music can play a critical role in international relations. The think tank Demos recommends these institutions address terrorism and conflict in the Middle East, and work to enhance relations with diasporas. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, argues that the museum, its staff and collections can play a role in state-building and promoting peace and stability internationally, as well as helping those who visit in Bloomsbury to understand and appreciate other cultures. It is argued that in the context of a world that is experiencing a dramatic resurgence in nationalism and sectarian violence, encyclopaedic museums can play a positive role in encouraging understanding and tolerance between cultures.

But can culture really ease international conflict and foster tolerance? Or does looking to old objects to find messages of tolerance for today meaning obscuring the contemporary reasons behind conflicts? Does assigning cultural institutions such a role risk undermining their more traditional goals, or even compromise their scholarly objectivity? What kind of relationships should Western cultural institutions have with their counterparts abroad, and to what purpose? What role, if any, can and should museums play on the international stage?


Speaker(s):

Stephen Deuchar | talks
Tiffany Jenkins | talks | www
. Claire Fox | talks | www

 

Date and Time:

21 October 2009 at 7:00 pm

Duration:

2 hours

 

Venue:

Tate Britain
Millbank
London
SW1P 4RG
+44 20 78 87 88 88
http://www.tate.org.uk
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Organised by:

Institute of Ideas
See other talks organised by Institute of Ideas...

 

Tickets:

£7.50 (£5)

Available from:

http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2009/session_detail/2592/

Additional Information:

http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2009/session_detail/2592/

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