Exhibiting Diplomacy: Art and International Cultural Relations in Canada
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In this dissertation, I analyze Canadian cultural diplomacy through the international exhibition of art, with particular consideration for the various ways in which state institutions have utilized art as an expedient in this context. Through a historical analysis that considers the significance of liberal ideologies to hegemonic formations of the Canadian nation and culture, I examine what Canadian government institutions hoped to accomplish through the international exhibition of art, and why art exhibitions in particular were utilized as an expedient in this context. In the following chapters, I map out several distinct yet interrelated examples of cultural diplomacy, all of which involve key metropoles in the Western art world as well as significant allies within Canadian foreign policy. I discuss the earliest instances of Canadian participation in the Venice and São Paulo Biennials in the 1950s; the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris and Canada House in London during the 1970s, which were government-run cultural centres closely associated with an attendant embassy; and 49th Parallel: Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, a government-run commercial art gallery which operated in New York from 1981 to1992. I argue that the Canadian federal government mobilized visual art as a means of cultural diplomacy in a bid to project an image of Canada as culturally, and by extension, politically significant, in order to broker relations with a network of liberal-minded nation-states, and to project internationally a cultural image distinct from that of the U.S. Further, I argue that the Department of External Affairs was attempting to not only project Canadian culture abroad, but to actually create the nation’s status as a culturally significant middle power. To this end, the examples I discuss in this dissertation demonstrate that projects of Canadian cultural diplomacy involve complex dialogues with powerful cultural and political agents. These dialogues, thus, reveal some of the strategic intricacies of negotiating cultural, political, and economic interests related to Canada’s asymmetrical power relations with the U.S. and other states.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/24856
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