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The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy 2010

The globally focused Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) is holding its annual international symposium in Berlin between 23 and 30 May this year.  

The symposium will look at culture and identity in an international context, examines the relationship between culture, international relations and globalization and applies the outcome of these investigations to current issues in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

“We hope that by the end of the event people will think differently,” says Mark Donfried, Director and Founder of the ICD. “We are trying to expose people to different alternatives and ways of dealing with this interdependent world in which we live.”

The conference is one of the world’s leading events in the fields of cultural studies and international relations.

“We bring together leading figures from the fields of international politics as well as prominent figures from the fields of academia, economy and culture , with the hope to engage them further in the field of Cultural Diplomacy and develop together related initiatives in the future,” says Donfried. ICD also invites young leaders setting out on their quests. “We try to inspire, empower and assist them to develop initiatives,” he says.  

One of the biggest needs in the field of cultural diplomacy is research, which Donfried hopes that the ICD can encourage more of through actively inviting applications from academics, diplomatic and political representatives, civil society practitioners, journalists, young professionals and students and other individuals with an interest in international relations, cultural studies, and global politics.  Click here to learn more about applications.

“For a lot of people the soft power approach to cultural diplomacy is the new thing. It is important to get people thinking about the potential for this approach,” says Donfried.  “Soft power is the ability to attract individuals rather than force them to participate in certain actions.  First you have power—soft and hard.

The third level is the different extractions of soft power and cultural diplomacy is one of them.  We hope to encourage people to work with and interact with us in this way.”

This year’s programme consists of three complementary parts: ‘Defining and understanding culture in an international context’, ‘A three piece puzzle—The relationship between culture, international relations’ and ‘Globalization and Understanding Afghanistan and Central Asia’.

The last part of the programme, explains Donfried, “grew from a conversation we had with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), at the last ICD symposium, which has developed to our idea to look through this window of culture and question what soft power and civil society do.  For instance, in Germany and in Europe as in the US there is a big difference between the position of the government and the public opinion when it comes to Afghanistan—the symposium is aimed be used as a platform not only for a greater understanding of the history and development of Afghanistan, and for exploring the political, economic, and security challenges currently facing the country, but also as an opportunity for us to look at the role  we can play in helping to ensure sustainable development, democracy, and stability in the future of Afghanistan.”  Also cooperating on this final part alongside NATO are UNESCO, and the US Embassy

Social activities

A number of social events taking place during the International Symposium will enable a more diverse audience to learn about the programme and the issues under discussion and provide further opportunities for speakers’ and participants to network. On 23 May, participants will be able to experience Berlin’s renowned “Carnival of Cultures”. With over 4,000 artists performing, and more than a million spectators, the parade through Kreuzberg is comparable to London’s Notting Hill Carnival.

On 26 May, Marcia Barrett–lead singer of Boney M–will speak on the power of music to cross boundaries, reflecting on her experiences in Northern Ireland, Russia, and Georgia. Following her speech, Barrett will give a live acoustic concert featuring her greatest hits.

For more information and details of the symposium schedule, visit the ICD website at www.icd-internationalsymposium.org

For any additional information please contact the ICD at: [email protected].


Expatica/ NG