Diasporas and Diplomacy: Cosmopolitan Contact Zones at the BBC World Service (1932-2012)

Gillespie, Marie and Webb, Alban eds. (2012). Diasporas and Diplomacy: Cosmopolitan Contact Zones at the BBC World Service (1932-2012). Culture, Economy and the Social. Abingdon: Routledge.

URL: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/97804155088...


Diasporas and Diplomacy analyzes the exercise of British ‘soft power’ through the BBC’s foreign language services, and the diplomatic role played by their diasporic broadcasters.

The book offers the first historical and comparative analysis of the ‘corporate cosmopolitanism’ that has characterized the work of the BBC’s international services since the inception of its Empire Service in 1932 – from radio to the Internet.

A series of empirically-grounded case studies, within a shared analytical framework, interrogate transformations in international broadcasting relating to: colonialism and corporate cosmopolitanism; diasporic and national identities; public diplomacy and international relations; international broadcasters and audiences

The book crosses the boundaries between the Social Sciences and Humanities. It demonstrates the value of using collaborative research techniques for analysing complex cultural institutions. Combining novel forms of collaborative and online ethnography, discourse analysis, archival research and creatively adapting the witness seminar, the book elicits a vivid analysis of the political, cultural and intellectual power of the World Service.

The central argument of the book revolves around the crucial role played by the BBC's diasporic broadcasters who made it possible for the BBC to communicate across lingustic and cultural boundaries and to gain and maintain its reputation as the world's most trusted and credible news providers. The case studies demonstrate how they also mediated diplomatic relations between the funders of the World Service, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the wider BBC. However, the role of diasporic broadcasters remains largely invisible to the British public and is under-represented in the BBC's own self-narration. the book redresses this absence.

It appears at a timely moment, when after 80 years the future of the World Service is under threat and its role set to change. It seeks to make a contribution to public debate and policy as well as to academic theorisations of the dynamics of diasporas and the contradictions of cosmopolitanism.

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