Empire, emotion, exchange : (dis)orienting encounters of/with post-9/11 US cultural diplomacy
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This article disentangles how empire, emotion and exchange intersect and work to orient and disorient processes of identity formation within post-9/11 US cultural diplomacy. Focusing on everyday cultural exchange practices, it challenges the particular cosmopolitanism embedded in these programmes that hinges upon the affective and the colonial. It reflects on how this entanglement of empire, emotion and exchange operates through modes of governmentality that produce energized, more governable subjects and masks such operations of power. Analysing one particular exchange – YES – this article disorients colonial logics of subjectification by exploring affective exchange encounters that are always already (dis)orienting. It then serves as a disorienting encounter with cultural diplomacy through four provocations, illustrating how empire is (always) (dis)orientating, can (dis)orient, can be disoriented, and must undergo disorientation. First, post-9/11 US cultural diplomacy and its logic of cosmopolitanism suggest empire is always (dis)orientating via its manifestation in ‘unusual’ sites; while exchange programmes’ onus on celebrating difference appears to conflict with ‘where’ empire ‘normally’ orients itself, as post/decolonial scholarship reveals, it is in the seemingly benign/unquestionable where empire does its work most profoundly. Second, the entanglement of emotion, empire and exchange can (dis)orient exchange subjects through how they are governed to perform and oscillate between ever-shifting ‘ideal’ subjectivities (familiar national/cosmopolitan global/enterprising neoliberal). Third, tracing colonial echoes and spectres in these exchanges reveals empire as disoriented, as that which is analytically ‘less conventional’. An arguably ‘conventional’ analysis oriented around a neo-colonial logic and an imperialistic ‘America’ while seductive in its simplicity obscures the governmental and performative complexities operating within these programmes. Finally, disorientation enables empire to be challenged and disrupted, opening up possibilities for post-9/11 US cultural diplomacy, and the self-Other relations comprising it, to be reimagined. In short, this paper’s analytical disorientation can lead to a reorientation of cultural diplomacy.
Mills , L 2020 , ' Empire, emotion, exchange : (dis)orienting encounters of/with post-9/11 US cultural diplomacy ' , Cultural Studies , vol. 34 , no. 5 , pp. 763-788 . https://doi.org/10.1080/09502386.2020.1780278
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