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Carla Konta

This chapter builds on the expanding literature on the role of Cold War exhibitions in winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the public worldwide. US participation in Yugoslav trade fairs was a matter of prestige for the organizers, a chance to improve economic relations and gain technological know-how. This chapter explores the role of exhibitions as public, cultural, and technopolitical diplomacy tools that functioned as ambassadors of the American dream, acts of bilateral political balancing, and platforms for prolific commercial trade. By analysing the most influential US exhibitions in Yugoslavia, from Atoms for Peace in 1955, to Industrial Design in 1970, the chapter argues that these left a compelling mark in the Yugoslav socioeconomic sphere, both for the establishment of Yugoslav grocery stores chains, as well as affirmation of Western-style consumerism. The chapter builds on Yugoslav periodical and newspaper records to examine Yugoslav reactions to the exhibitions. In the flow of previous scholarly studies, it examines the political values of images, commodities, and know-how that were used as Cold War cultural weapons by both American and Yugoslav leaders, Tito included.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Carla Konta

Scholars working on public or cultural diplomacy more broadly usually focused on specific musicians, music genres, or forms of art. Although based on previous studies, this chapter aims to look at music and art diplomacy from the angle of channels – usually festivals – personalities, and cultural diplomacy content. Grounded on archival records, newspapers, and interviews, the chapter shows that, in Yugoslavia, American jazz was a cultural Cold War weapon, possessing connotations of improvisation and freedom. It argues, contrary to what Vučetić asserted, that those jazz performers arrived in Yugoslavia mostly through private, financially favourable, arrangements. On the other hand, the State Department prioritized classical arrangements, from symphony orchestras to ballet. Unlike other USIS programs, the US Cultural Presentation Program was considered politically neutral. Nevertheless, together with Voice of America, it contributed to popularizing American jazz. On the other hand, it is Voice of America that was perceived as highly problematic, dangerous propaganda by Yugoslav Party commissions. Followed by 46 to 70 per cent of all radio listeners, VOA successfully exploited its public diplomacy function by enticing behaviour that was breaking implicit rules of the Titoist regime and, therefore, perceived as encouraging freedom.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
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Carla Konta

This chapter examines how Yugoslav reform policies, from the mid-1960s on, stemmed from Yugoslav leaders favouring decentralization and more economic freedom, as well as dissidents’ movements that brought critics of Yugoslav socialism into the Party and influenced public opinion. The chapter shows how the anti-LCY (League of Communists of Yugoslavia) movements were never openly supported by the US government, nor calling for the US and Western liberal democracies to be their inspiration; but they were asking for more pluralism in the Yugoslav political and cultural arena. This convinced US policymakers and field officers to consider these requests to be inspired by US public diplomatic policies, striving to influence the regime from outside to entice change from within. The chapter addresses the US connections of many Yugoslav dissidents, such as Croatian Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Praxis philosophers, and Mihajlo Mihajlov, but also the Serbian Liberals. The chapter acknowledges how the renewed Tito–Nixon partnership, due to the threat of the Brezhnev Doctrine, shifted Yugoslav concern about American influence and incentivized excellent economic and cultural cooperation in the 1970s.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
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Carla Konta

This chapter synthesizes how US public diplomacy used soft skills in soft-power endeavours, and how the USIS mission flourished with reduced Yugoslav resistance to US influence, but only after accepting the American partnership that helped to stifle Soviet interference in the post-1948 assessment. The chapter analyses USIS interest in creating long-term networks, rather than undermining the Yugoslav dictatorship. Transnational connections with fellows and critical thinkers in the United States became crucial to Yugoslav dissident movements, as well as for the leadership involved in the Foreign Leader Program and other US exchange programs. The chapter also explains how Yugoslav experimentation with liberalization ended up being an oxymoron, and how US cultural penetration contributed to shaping that experiment. The chapter argues that mutual (dis)trust between the two partners over the decades resulted from their belonging to ideologically opposed factions; ultimately, this was overcome by pragmatism, realpolitik, and, to some extent, shared appreciation. The imposed, often arbitrary, limits to the American cultural agenda display both the Yugoslav regime’s invisible boundaries of coercion, and American keenness to overcome them.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
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Carla Konta

The chapter starts by exploring the complex US–Yugoslav ties in the post-1948 era: Eisenhower’s plan of ‘keeping Tito afloat,’ American support of Yugoslav independence from the Soviets, and the hardly justifiable partnership (from an ideological point of view) with the United States. It examines how Yugoslavia’s turn to neutrality helped restore US-Yugoslav relations to a point of appeasement that would become crucial for US cultural affirmation in post-war Yugoslavia. In such a context, public diplomacy turns into a weapon of soft power aimed at ‘converting’ Yugoslav leaders to the West and enforcing cooperation with the United States. While resulting in asymmetrical reciprocity favouring the United States, US public diplomacy never stopped being a simplified transmission–reception process, but rather represented a complex account of negotiations in the political, cultural, and social arena.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Carla Konta

The chapter analyses the general trends of US public diplomacy in Yugoslavia in the 1950s and 1960s, shaped by Yugoslav foreign relations and international positioning towards the United States and the Soviet Union, and its internal Party–State interactions. It starts by looking at divergences between Washington-conceived policies and the Yugoslav ‘field,’ and feedback from the first inspection programs. It examines how public diplomacy programs evolved from Eisenhower’s bolder strategy to JFK’s flexible response. The chapter accentuates parallel processes and consequential decision-making: Yugoslav patterns of resistance to American propaganda and official permissiveness; the spillover of world events in USIS–Yugoslav relations; late-1950s negative reaction towards USIS and the 1960 Press Law; the USIA/USIS response of a harder leader’s line and advancement of the program in that direction; changing Yugoslav public opinion; political/cultural rapprochement with the West in the 1960s; and Yugoslav hesitation between openness and control in the issue of foreign public diplomacy. USIS regarded its work as successful, both because of its popularity among audiences, and because of liberal cultural trends that, following the 1953 and 1963 Constitutions, left them more liberty in working with Yugoslav cultural leaders.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Soft culture, cold partners
Author: Carla Konta

The book represents the first comprehensive account of the public and cultural diplomacy campaigns carried out by the United States in Yugoslavia during the height of the Cold War. Based on extensive multinational archival research, as well as private papers and personal interviews, this book charts the reasoning behind the US campaign and the impact it had on specific Yugoslav communities and individuals. American soft power, as a form of cultural power, deliberately sought to ‘open up’ a relatively closed society through the provision and diffusion of liberal traditions, ideas, and ideals. Tito and his Party allowed USIA and State Department cultural programs to enter Yugoslavia, liberated from Soviet control, to open cultural centres and pavilions at its main fairs, to broadcast Voice of America, and have American artists tour the country. Exchanges of intellectual and political personnel helped foster the US–Yugoslav relationship, but posed severe ideological challenges for both countries. By providing new insights into porous borders between freedom and coercion in Tito’s regime, the book shows how public diplomacy acted as an external input for Yugoslav liberalization and dissident movements. Meant for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the cultural Cold War, international relations, and diplomacy, this book fills a gap in the literature by looking at the political role of culture in US–Yugoslav bilateral relations, analysing the fluid links between information and propaganda, and the unintended effects propaganda can produce beyond the control of producers and receivers.

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Carla Konta

This chapter investigates the multifaceted cultural program at the American posts in Belgrade and Zagreb, its aims, content and target public. As locations of the cultural vanguard, USIS attracted prominent Yugoslav intellectual and cultural intelligentsia. With 11,000 copies of the daily Bilten, and 25,000 of Pregled, a local USIS magazine, the American centres promoted book, magazine, exhibit, lecture, English teaching, music, and film-lending programs with the priority of advancing US foreign policy and disseminating American values and ideals. It analyses the major themes around which the library program revolved, such as American democracy, capitalism, and freedom. This chapter relies on four interviews of former USIS employees and visitors: USIS Zagreb library director, Nada Apsen, USIS Zagreb librarian, Zdenka Nikolić, USIS Belgrade librarian, Petar Nikolić, and Sonja Bašić, a Yugoslav USIS user.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
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(Ex)changes and drawbacks
Carla Konta

The extended US Cultural Exchange Program with Yugoslavia stemmed from the USIA 1962–63 Country Plan, oriented towards a bolder leaders-centred policy. Such a policy resulted in one of the most extended American cultural exchange agendas with a foreign country, counting, in the mid-1960s, around fifty – both state and private – exchange programs. This chapter shows how the cultural exchange programs proved capable of balancing bilateral relations between the two countries and were pragmatically used as soft-power tools. It examines the US Foreign Leader Program, the Fulbright Program, the Ford Foundation, and the private programs, and their ability to sway Yugoslav leaders towards liberal reform and a pro-Western stance. The chapter explores the negotiations process that led to the establishment of the exchanges as stemming from diplomacy, policymaking, and Yugoslav pragmatic political stances.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Humanitarian diplomacy and the cultures of appeasement in Britain
Rebecca Gill

This chapter examines one year, 1938, in the history of the British Red Cross (BRCS): a year that was not one of its most obviously eventful. Indeed, with devastating conflict raging in Europe, the BRCS, like the British Government, was notable for its non-intervention in Spain. Yet it did play a part in the high drama of European politics, advocating for international protocols on civilian protection in war, and acting as broker and facilitator between movements for civil defence and (territorial) military planning and Government departments at a time when the shadow of European war loomed large. Using the case study of the Red Cross International Conference held in London in June 1938, the local and national history of the BRCS is explored better to understand its relative state of non-intervention in the Spanish war, and how this related to the discourse on civilian protection and civil defence at home. How much the BRCS focused on these national priorities at a time of international crisis is a focal point of this chapter, which explores the broader question of how the Movement as a whole operated and avoided segmentation at this critical political juncture in the final years of peace.

in The Red Cross Movement