This article explores the overlooked role of museums in the international arena as playing a dual role in cultural diplomacy. It explores the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to illustrate an emerging ‘hybrid’ form of diplomacy that cannot be strictly defined as ‘state’ or ‘non-state’. Although the article documents strong ties between the Hermitage Museum and the Russian government, it also reveals the Hermitage’s growing capacity to build productive bilateral cultural relationships with foreign partners, bypassing governmental control. Specifically, the article looks at the international network of Hermitage Foundations as a successful museum international outreach and fundraising campaign that significantly contributes to the Russian government’s efforts in cultural diplomacy. This case offers new empirical findings from the non-Western context, exposing the growing role of museums in contemporary diplomacy.
The primary ambition of this special issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy1 is to approach a certain segment of the diplomatic universe that has been heretofore overlooked, and yet one could argue it is also more than ever pertinent to the effort to understand geopolitical and cultural impacts on governance in contemporary diplomacy.2 The articles that form ‘Non-State Diplomacy from Non-Western Perspectives’ are foremost joined by their challenge to two prevailing tendencies in diplomatic studies scholarship: first, the interpretation of non-Western practices through a predominantly Western lens; and, following from this, that diplomatic action in these contexts is largely confined to state institutions. Each of the articles in this special issue applies exploratory lenses of ‘contextual discovery’ to recalibrate foundational developments in the current diplomacy scholarship through an empirical research conducted in non-Western countries.3 Each article offers fresh findings from non-Western contexts to enrich a growing body of literature that takes a ‘post-globalist’ approach to the study of diplomacy.4 In doing so, the scholarship embraces complexities of challenging co-existence among state and non-state actors in the field of international relations. Two years in the making, this special issue expresses our hope that — by drawing these perspectives into the light — we will be in a much better position to meet this non-state/non-Western phenomenon with a fuller appreciation of its manifestations.
The 1958 Lacy-Zarubin agreement on cultural, educational and scientific exchanges marked decades of people-to-people exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union. Despite the Cold War tensions and mutually propagated adversarial images, the exchanges had never been interrupted and remained unbroken until the Soviet Union dissolved. This essay argues that due to the 1958 general agreement and a number of co-operative agreements that had the status of treaties and international acts issued under the authority of the US State Department and the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the exchanges could not proceed without diplomatic supervision. This peculiarity puts academic and technical exchanges specifically into the framework of science diplomacy, which is considered a diplomatic tool for implementing a nation state’s foreign policy goals determined by political power.