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Steve Marsh explores political culture by foregrounding the contribution that diplomatic pageantry has made to official representations of Anglo-American relations. Through analysis of bilateral summit meetings between presidents and prime ministers, the informal ambassadorship of the British royal family, and the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage in 2020, Marsh demonstrates that such events are designed and choreographed to assure elite, media, and popular attention. His work illuminates how the official deployment of a selective narrative of Anglo-American relations serves to (re-)legitimize the concept of the special relationship and enhance its ability to adapt to changed circumstances.
This book examines how intangible aspects of international relations – including identity, memory, representation, and symbolic perception – have helped to stimulate and sustain the Anglo-American special relationship. Drawing together world-leading and emergent scholars, this volume breaks new ground by applying the theories and methodologies of the ‘cultural turn’ in diplomatic history to the study of Anglo-American relations. It contends that matters of culture have been far more important to the special relationship than previously allowed in a field hitherto dominated by interest-based interpretations of American and British foreign policies. Fresh analyses of cultural symbols, discourses, and ideologies fill important gaps in our collective understanding of the special relationship’s operation and expose new analytical spaces in which we can re-evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Designed to breathe new life into old debates about the relationship’s purported specialness, this book offers a multidisciplinary exploration of literary representations, screen representations, political representations, representations in memory, and the roles of cultural connections and constructs that have historically influenced elite decision-making and sculpted popular attitudes toward and expectations of the special relationship. This book will be of particular interest to students and informed readers of Anglo-American relations, foreign policy, and diplomatic history, as well as all those who are interested in the power of culture to impact international relations.
The introduction contextualizes the substance of Culture Matters in three sections. The first section locates the book within important debates about the history of the special relationship and illuminates why an expanded consideration of culture is important to the field. The second section introduces the main ideas and benefits of the ‘cultural turn’ in diplomatic history and international relations, which has operationalized culture as a key to understanding the behavior of states in the global system and inspired diverse analytical approaches. Finally, the third section explains the volume’s structure and central themes as well as introduces the individual chapters, which illuminate the mosaic of cultural connections that have simultaneously influenced elite decision-making and sculpted popular attitudes toward and expectations of the special relationship.