Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency. Image: Truthout.org/Flickr
This article was originally published by War is Boring on 2 May, 2015.
During the Cold War, Moscow’s Ministry of Culture was a master of censorship. The Kremlin’s cultural bulwark screened non-Russian films, suppressed literature and shaped the lives of Soviet artists.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency also dabbled in the dark arts of cultural influence. Except it preferred the carrot to the stick.
Words matter. A society’s books and movies impact the world. Books, in particular were often internationally influential during the Cold War. Both the ministry and the agency understood this.
The CIA funded the production and distribution of individual literary projects. It made sure Russian-language copies of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago flooded into the Soviet Union. Further, the agency directed more comprehensive operations. » More
This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 15 July 2014.
Recent years have seen much talk of the dangers of Islam in the West and its perceived incompatibility with Western societies. According to statistics, estimated on the basis of country of origin and of first- and second-generation migrants, Muslims represent the largest “non-indigenous” immigrant group in Europe. The largest groups are in France, with approximately 5 million; Germany, between 3.8 and 4.3 million; and the UK, 1.6 million, followed by the Netherlands and Italy, 1.1 million each, as well as Bulgaria and Spain. » More
This article was originally published June 24 2014 by the Harvard International Review (HIR).
Culture has a salient geopolitical relevance in a world that defines itself by much more than diplomatic exchanges and inter-state relations. This is primarily because of the deeply visceral and emotional connotations associated with identity issues. This has been the case throughout history, as exchanges have taken place between people of different cultures for millennia, but today they are marked by unprecedented intensity and scope of relations. This offers great opportunities on a number of levels but also has the potential to initiate tension or conflict when combined with injustice, inequalities and insecurities. » More
Europe. Photo: Caitlinator/flickr.
Political heavyweights such as David Cameron and Angela Merkel have recently proclaimed that multiculturalism has failed, underlining the tension between the securitisation of migration and the on-going need for integration, or the incorporation of minorities into society. European Multiculturalisms: Cultural, Religious and Ethnic Challenges offers an assessment of the different ways in which European countries have dealt with diversity. Multiculturalism is one such ‘mode of integration’ that recognises that ‘social existence consists of individuals and groups, and that both need to be provided for in the formal and informal distribution of powers’ (p. 4). While the presumed crisis of multiculturalism has given it an air of obsoleteness, the authors argue that in fact, multiculturalism remains the best way to conceptualise citizenship in the globalised and diverse societies of Europe.
The book presents findings from a large international research project (EMILIE) and consists of two parts that reflect the twofold aims of this interdisciplinary study: the first part contains theoretical and conceptual reflections and refinements; and the second part focuses on the empirical and comparative exploration of the political responses developed during the alleged crisis of multiculturalism in seven case studies: five in Northern Europe, where immigration has been on the political agenda for some time now (Belgium, the UK, Denmark, France and Germany); and two in Southern Europe, where immigration has become an issue only relatively recently (Spain and Greece). Two countries in Central Eastern Europe, which face emigration rather than immigration, are also sometimes referred to (Poland and Latvia). Together, they help to both grasp and evaluate recent developments in the accommodation of minorities, and particularly Muslims, and contribute to our understanding of the ‘crisis of multiculturalism’ as well as the variety of multiculturalisms present in Europe. » More
Man repairing the “Say No to Burqas” graffiti. Picture: Newtown graffiti/flickr
Interdisciplinary research can provide a stimulus for different research agendas, but only on the condition that it remains intelligible for all of the disciplines involved. Unfortunately, the presentation of Syed Mansoob Murshed on the economic modeling of identity in civilizational and sectarian conflicts did not provide the opportunity for such an interaction between disciplines. This is all the more regrettable, as Murshed’s distinguished background in economics is a valuable asset in enriching both conflict and violence research. Despite the mixed quality of the presentation, it is worth taking a moment to understand and to engage with the ideas introduced.