Culture and propaganda : the progressive origins of American public diplomacy, 1936-1953


    • Graham, Sarah Ellen


Culture and propaganda : the progressive origins of American public diplomacy, 1936-1953

Sarah Ellen Graham

Ashgate, c2015

  • : hbk

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [209]-264) and index



Throughout the twentieth century governments came to increasingly appreciate the value of soft power to help them achieve their foreign policy ambitions. Covering the crucial period between 1936 and 1953, this book examines the U.S. government's adoption of diplomatic programs that were designed to persuade, inform, and attract global public opinion in support of American national interests. Cultural diplomacy and international information were deeply controversial to an American public that been bombarded with propaganda during the First World War. This book explains how new notions of propaganda as reciprocal exchange, cultural engagement, and enlightening information paved the way for innovations in U.S. diplomatic practice. Through a comparative analysis of the State Department's Division of Cultural Relations, the government radio station Voice of America, and the multilateral cultural, educational and scientific diplomacy of Unesco, and drawing extensively on U.S. foreign policy archives, this book shows how America's liberal traditions were reconciled with the task of influencing and attracting publics abroad.


  • Contents: Introduction
  • 'Let's not be suckers again.' Propaganda analysis, philanthropy, and American foreign relations between the world wars
  • 'Enlightened and far-sighted leadership'. Cultural diplomacy: Latin American precedents and wartime expansion
  • Journalist or diplomat? Wartime broadcasting at the Voice of America
  • 'A forum is also a battleground': the founding of Unesco
  • The limits of reciprocity: cultural diplomacy in the post-war world order
  • 'Threats to our virtue': propaganda, information and the Cold War
  • Cultural democracy and the Iron Curtain: Unesco, multilateralism and the Cold War
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index.

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