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The Art of Soft Power

A study of cultural diplomacy at the UN Office in Geneva


Many grand claims have been made about the power of art and culture to advance the soft power agendas of nation states. Yet, there is little published academic research that critically analyses the effectiveness or impact of cultural diplomacy and soft power. King's put these claims to the test, to really understand how art and culture feature in the mechanisms of international relations.

Focusing in on the specific setting of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), King’s was given the opportunity to interview both diplomats and secretariat about how they see the use of the arts and culture in the furtherance of their diplomatic objectives. The findings are outlined in the Cultural Enquiry report The art of soft power.

The research was carried out by Dr Melissa Nisbett from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, and Dr James Doeser, a King’s Research Associate. The Enquiry was supported at UNOG by Francesco Pisano, Director of the United Nations Library Geneva and his team.

There were launch events in Vilnius, Geneva, and in London, where, on the 9 November the academic, diplomatic and cultural sectors came together in a seminar to discuss the report’s findings.

 Read the report here.

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