How does culture reflect and interact with politics and diplomacy? Why is culture key to national institutions, international organisations, as well as to local and global movements? How do the politics of culture shape media communication, and what is the relationship between media and culture?
"Culture" is one of the most used and abused terms in contemporary society. It is invoked to sustain international cooperation and peace-keeping, but also to construct boundaries and to call for war. Culture is never innocent, and understanding what individuals, communities and institutions do with culture is key to navigating the complexity of a highly interconnected world.
The cultural studies research area at the Diplomatische Akademie Wien - Vienna School of International Studies is an emergent transdisciplinary field which will be expanded in the coming years to become a fifth department of the Academy with a strong commitment to research, teaching and public science.
It works with a translational understanding of culture: that is, it conceives of any cultural practice as a field of negotiation at the intersection of what, contextually, is considered to be “the self” and “the other”. Meanings are never stable, but always subject to un- and re-making processes. Students are trained to:
a. recognise the relevant actors, ideologies, and power relations involved in such processes,
b. develop a critical understanding of culture as constraint and potential for dialogue in diplomacy (e.g. intercultural dialogue, public diplomacy, human rights),
c. analyse the politics and the policies of culture in fields that are key to international studies (e.g. heritage; identity and diversity; environment and sustainability; human dignity and post-human complexities),
d. analyse transcultural communication and transnational media flows,
e. act as cultural translators in a variety of fields of practice, such as cultural diplomacy and management, media, and education. In this regard, the area of cultural studies benefits from an intense exchange and collaboration between academics and practitioners.