Cultural Diplomacy as Creative Collaboration: Applied Humanities Networks and Post-Values Partnerships

Robert Albro

April 16, 2013 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Harris School of Public Policy
1155 E. 60th St.
Room 289B

Robert Albro, Assistant Professor and Scholar-in-Residence, American University

Diplomacy is laboring through a sustained cultural crisis. Publics are now less distant than previously, more assertive, and actively engaged participants in the making of their encompassing cultural worlds. To embrace this new reality likely requires rethinking many of the methods of cultural diplomacy and perhaps its basic goals.

This talk upends diplomacy's typical politics of representation, in particular, the assumption of "shared values," and government-to-government cultural exchange, to the end of message delivery. Instead, it explores "diplomatic" entailments as part of other, often humanitarian, varieties of collaboration, including participatory curation, social media community-building, archival training, oral history and public memory projects, cultural heritage conservation, digital game design, documentary film, culture mapping, the negotiation of cultural copyright and building of cultural commons, and the management and exhibition of antiquities.

Trained in sociocultural anthropology (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1999), Robert Albro has maintained long-term ethnographic research and published widely on urban indigenous and popular politics in Bolivia, with a focus on citizenship, democratic participation, and identity. Much of this work is summarized his book, Roosters at Midnight: Indigenous Signs and Stigma in Local Bolivian Politics. His present research and writing address domestic and global cultural policy, including the increasing application of culture to security policy. Some of this work appears in his edited volume, Anthropologists in theSecurityscape: Ethics, Practice, and Professional Identity. Dr. Albro serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Diplomacy Council and is in residence at American University's School of International Service. More information about his work can be found at


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