cold war

In April 1966, legendary jazz musician Duke Ellington travelled to Dakar, Senegal, with his orchestra to play at the first World Festival of Negro Arts. Organised against the backdrop of African decolonisation and the push for civil rights in the US, the festival was hailed as the inaugural cultural gathering of the black world.

Forty-five years ago, Cold War tensions between the United States and communist China were lessened thanks to an unlikely diplomatic tool: ping-pong. On April 10, 1971, the U.S. table tennis team arrived in China for a 10-day visit, becoming the first group of Americans in over 20 years to get a peek behind the “Bamboo Curtain.” 

Air Up, by Storefront for Art and Architecture

Remembering Jack Masey, a giant in American public diplomacy.

What is public diplomacy, quite often mentioned in the news? And how has it — and its variants/related terms — changed the nature of traditional diplomacy, if at all? Dictionaries define traditional diplomacy as “ the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad“ or “the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations.”

Jack Masey, a designer for the United States Information Agency whose model American kitchen, part of an exhibition in Moscow in 1959, provided the stage for an argument about communism and capitalism between Nikita S. Khrushchev and Vice President Richard M. Nixon, one of the Cold War’s most memorable confrontations, died on March 13 in Manhattan. He was 91.

North Korea today is known as the world’s most isolationist nation, an obdurate outpost of totalitarianism. [...] But the public spaces of Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya and elsewhere are dotted with reminders of a long-running  often surreal charm offensive that was waged by the North as part of the Korean peninsula’s own Cold War. Since 1969, Pyongyang’s Mansudae Art Studio has exported statues and other monuments to at least 16 African countries.

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