Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’


French and German cultural action in Brazil in the 1960s and 1960s

February 25, 2016
Lanoe E (2012) La culture au service de la diplomatie? Les politiques culturelles extérieures de la RFA et de la France au Brésil (1961-1973), PhD, Lille: Universite Charles de Gaulle – Lille III.


680 pages of text on French and German cultural relations strategies in Brazil in the 1960s and 70s probably isn’t top of your reading priorities but it if is I’d recommend this, even if you’re not it raises some important points about how to go about analysing public diplomacies.

Lanoe works across France and Germany both at the level of institutional and policy developments at home and at the country level. This allows her to compare perspectives and developments across the two countries as well as between field and HQ. By looking at France and Germany together she’s able to track the way that changes in the Brazilian context, for instance the military coup, generated different responses from France and Germany.

The thesis also underlines some themes that I’ve seen in my research. Public diplomacies aren’t just about the country to country dyad but also about third parties. In the period under consideration France’s position in Brazil was affected by the conflict in Algeria and the activities of Algerian national sympathisers while that of (West) Germany was also influenced by the activities of East Germany. By covering a relatively long time frame it’s also possible to see the partial unwinding of the priority given to the Cold War in West German activities. There’s also an interesting discussion of generational conflicts within the German system where younger Goethe Institute directors chafed against the older central management of the organization and the foreign ministry many of whom had careers dating back to the Nazi era.

Because the thesis is looks at activities on Brazil it adds quite a lot to more general treatments that focus more on what’s happening at home – for instance Kathe (2005) on the Goethe Institut.  I think that this is important because it helps to put the German debate  on Auswärtige Kulturpolitik that unfolded during the 1970s into the context of changing priorities during the previous decade and of real practices.

Kathe SR (2005) Kulturpolitik um Jeden Preis: Die Geschichte des Goethe-Instituts von 1951 bis 1990. Munich: Martin Medienbauer.

You can download Lanoe’s thesis here


The Public Diplomacy Challenge for Rising Powers

November 24, 2011

There’s quite an active debate in China about soft power and the public diplomacy requirements of being a rising power (eg Ding 2008) so I was really interested by this New York Times story about negative regional reactions to the rise of Brazil.  Brazil is seen, in some quarters at least, as using its financial resources to finance infrastructure projects that threaten national sovereignty in Argentina, Bolivia. Guyana, Peru.  The article quotes a Bolivian politician: ‘just as China consolidates regional hegemony in Asia, Brazil wants to do the same in Latin America.’  There’s scope for an interesting comparative study here.

I’ve always  liked Choucri and North’s (1975) idea that rising powers exert ‘lateral pressure’ . Economic and demographic growth generates a search for resources and opportunities, which in turn create new political interests.  Economic growth provides new resources for military spending with the effect that the frictions over investments and access and resources become security issues. For the neighbours the combination of a pattern of conflicts combined with expanding military resources mark the rising power as a problem.  What I like about lateral pressure is the implication that it is a natural consequence of growth rather than something that is planned.   The implication of this is that the process of an ‘antagonizing’ is piecemeal.  It’s not something that governments plan to do and may derive from actions that are nothing to do with government.  Choucri and North based their model of conflict on the period before 1914 and I think that in thinking about the current international system this is an interesting period to keep in mind with its combination of rising powers and popular nationalism mediated through interacting national media systems that tended to magnify international issues (eg Hale 1940, 1971)

Rising powers tend find it difficult to recognize their impact on their neighbours and hence to manage the situation diplomatically.  One source of this is the conviction that what’s good for  them is also for the neighbours.  The kind of infrastructure projects discussed in the NYT article are good for some of the people in the neighbouring states but also create losers and opponents who can then harness the power of nationalism against the project.   Where the exuberance of growth is coupled with a sense of grievance or entitlement then the propensity to overlook or overreact to negative reactions is reinforced.   In the Brazil case some of these conflicts are more internal to the neighbouring states but still have an impact on international relationships.

From a public diplomacy( and a broader diplomatic)  perspective rising powers need to understand that negative reactions are not just about misperceptions or a sense of a military threat.  These reactions are rooted in objective changes generated by the process of growth which need to be managed regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation

Choucri, N., and R.C. North (1975) Nations in Conflict: National Growth and International Violence. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman & Co.

Ding, S. (2008) The Dragon’s Hidden Wings: How China Rises with Its Soft Power. Lexington Books.

Hale, O.J. (1940) Publicity and Diplomacy. New York: Appleton Century.

Hale, O.J. (1971) Germany and the Diplomatic Revolution: a Study in Diplomacy and the Press, 1904-1906. Octagon Books.