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As the nineteenth century became the twentieth and the dangers of rampant nationalism became more evident, people throughout the world embraced the idea that a new spirit of internationalism might be fostered by better communication and understanding among nations. Cultural internationalism came into its own after the end of World War I, when intellectuals and artists realized that one way of forging a stable and lasting international peace was to encourage international cultural exchange and cooperation.
In Cultural Internationalism and World Order, noted historian Akira Iriye shows how widespread and serious a following this idea had. He describes a surprising array of efforts to foster cooperation, from the creation of an international language to student exchange programs, international lecture circuits, and other cultural activities. But he does not overlook the tensions the movement encountered with the real politics of the day, including the militarism that led up to the World War I, the rise of extreme strains of nationalism in Germany and Japan before World War II, and the bipolar rivalries of the Cold War.
Iriye concludes that the effort of cultural internationalism can only be appreciated only in the context of world politics. A lasting and stable world order, he argues, cannot rely just on governments and power politics; it also depends upon the open exchange of cultures among peoples in pursuing common intellectual and cultural interests.
Johns Hopkins University Press
Akira Iriye discusses the origins of what he calls 'cultural internationalism' and the tensions that arose in the countervailing forces of nationalism prior to both World Wars. To prevent a resurgence of the militarism of cultural nationalists, which has wrecked such havoc in this century, he makes a compelling argument about the need to tear down cultural walls rather than build them up.
Iriye argues that the traditional understanding of international relations as competition for power and wealth, and the consequent shunting aside of cultural issues as a matter for woolly-headed idealists, needs to be rethought. His history of cultural internationalism—that is, the attempt to build cultural understanding, cooperation, and a sense of shared values across national borders through student exchanges, lectures, and the like—shows that it has been a constant feature of twentieth-century international relations.
"Iriye has added a quiet (and overdue) polemic for liberal values. He forces us to consider the importance of environmentalists, journalists, students, artists, scholars, and musicians who flow between cultures, mitigating the rhetoric of national leaders and the menacing accumulation of troops and arms.
Chapter 1: The Internationalist Imagination
Chapter 2: The Origins of Cultural Internationalism
Chapter 3: The Separation of Culture from Internationalism
Chapter 4: The Cultural Foundations of the New Globalism
Conclusion: Toward a Cultural Definition of International Relations
Johns Hopkins University Press