Mediatic Public Diplomacy: Iranian State, Iranian people, and the West

Professor Hamid Naficy, al-Thani Professor in Communication (Radio-TV-Film), Northwestern University

Co-presented with the Department of Government and International Relations, and the Religion, State and Society Network, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Professor Hamid Naficy is a guest of the Competing Visions in the Muslim World Symposium at the University of Sydney.

With recent technological, communication media, and political revolutions the standard definition of public diplomacy, which applied mainly to relations between sovereign states, no longer suffices. Instead a “new” public diplomacy has risen whereby powerful non-state actors, such as supranational organizations, sub-national actors, non-governmental organizations, and commercial companies, communicate and engage with foreign publics. This new definition has opened the way for Western and Iranian governments to tap not only into their own respective national media and pop cultures but also into the Iranian diaspora media and pop culture to convey their values to opposing government, to their respective populations, and to the Iranian publics at home and in diaspora. It is thus that these domestic and diasporic publics have become important third and fourth players in this globalized mediatic public diplomacy. This has made for a very contested and combustible sort of public diplomacy with grave consequences for some of its practitioners. The talk is illustrated with video clips.

Hamid Naficy

Hamid Naficy is the Althani Professor of Communication (Radio-TV-Film) at Northwestern University. He is a leading authority on cinema and television in the Middle East, has produced many educational films and experimental videos and has published extensively about theories of exile and displacement, exile and diaspora cinema and media, and Iranian and Third World cinemas. His many publications include such well-known titles as An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking, The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los Angeles, Otherness and the Media: The Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged, Iran Media Index, and the AFI anthology, Home, Exile, Homeland. Most recently, he has published A Social History of Iranian Cinema, in four volumes available from Duke University Press.

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