Gascoyne, Abigail

Start date:
October 2018
Research Topic:
Sino-Welsh cultural relations
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC studentship

Title: Wales in China; promoting cultural diversity or normative cultural diplomacy? Evaluating the impacts of Sino-Welsh cultural exchanges post 2005.

In 2007 the UK ratified a UNESCO convention aimed at protecting and promoting cultural diversity. The convention highlighted the need for increased cultural cooperation and collaboration across nations. Wales, like many other European nations, have been particularly keen to engage with China’s rapidly emerging markets. And since 2015, with the signing of a MoU between Welsh government and the Cultural Ministry of China, there has been a marked increase in intercultural exchanges and collaborations between the two. Thus far they’ve been diverse in nature: from animation collaborations, to creative industry workshops, and theatrical partnerships.

But despite the rapid development of this cultural relationship, there has been very little work which attempts to understand the overall impact of Wales’ efforts in this area. This project aims to analyse and evaluate the ambitions and subsequent achievements of these artistic exchanges, with the primary research question of: are Wales’ efforts to connect culturally with China intrinsically tied to the aims of the 2005 UNESCO convention, or simply pieces of bilateral cultural diplomacy, aimed at increasing Wales’ soft power?

This project will also consider whether it is possible for countries to simultaneously meet the articles laid out in the UNESCO convention, alongside effective cultural diplomacy? The UNESCO convention stresses the need to depoliticise and de-commercialise culture. Yet cultural diplomacy is intrinsically entwined with a country’s international relations, and therefore its sovereignty and national interest. Whilst the convention is largely altruistic, cultural diplomacy is inherently egotistic.