Session Submission Summary

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Digital Initiatives for Cultural Diplomacy

Fri, November 6, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 6

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Brief Description

This roundtable, whose format serves the exploratory nature of our topic and provides space for the sharing of diverse experiences, brings together scholars working on Digital Humanities (DH) projects around material culture, history, and memory, who are interested in doing more than presenting visual and textual information and offering interactive ways of learning. Specifically, we are exploring the potential of DH to advance the mission of cultural diplomacy –that is, to foster intercultural understanding even among individuals whom geopolitics have pitted against one another. Cultural diplomacy can range from government-sponsored programs (such as Cold-War cultural exchanges) to grassroots-based citizen diplomacy. What new possibilities does the digital world present? A virtual exhibition of artifacts that illuminates how these objects serve as embodiments of collectively-held values and tells the stories of the people who made and used these objects could help to draw out the humanity of those who might otherwise be seen as stereotypes or abstractions. The immersive experiences that digital media offer could connect people across cultures. DH projects can contribute to cultural understanding and dialogue through their outreach to students and/or the general public. For many today, digital connectivity amplifies expressions of xenophobia in response to anxieties around major social shifts, and promotes contacts with like-minded individuals, potentially foreclosing the ability to consider other viewpoints. Can DH efforts in the Slavic field serve as a countervailing force to foster connections across national boundaries and an ethos of empathy rather than intolerance?

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